Today we celebrate International Human Rights Day while COP21 continues in Paris, the historic city where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed on the 10th of December 1948. In conjunction with the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, UN Special Envoy on Climate Change Mary Robinson has a full day of climate justice dialogue at COP21.
Climate justice links human rights and development in a human-centred approach, safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable people and sharing the burdens and benefits of climate change and its impacts equitably and fairly. In an interview, Ms Robinson stressed the importance of including not just "words, it's the values" of human rights that are important in the COP21 agreement.
The international human rights framework provides the global norms and legal tools with which to seek appropriate, rights-based responses to climate change, rooted in equality and justice. Human rights gives us internationally agreed values and legally defined minimum thresholds around which there is widespread consensus and a starting point from which common action commitments can be negotiated and implemented. The guarantee of basic rights rooted in recognition of the equal worth and respect for the dignity of each person at the core of this approach makes it an indispensable foundation for action on climate justice.
The UN Human Rights Council has recognized the relationship between existing human rights and the right to a healthy environment and accepts that climate change “poses an immediate and far-reaching threat to people and communities around the world.” Human rights such as the right to safe and adequate water and food, the right to health and adequate housing are threatened by climate change.
"Climate change is fundamentally an issue of human dignity, and is, therefore, inseparable from human rights,” Georgetown University, Women and Climate Change: Impact and Agency in Human Rights, Security and Economic Development.