Bachelet: Climate change a threat to human rights

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Referencing climate change, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, “The world has never seen a threat to human rights of this scope.”

Bachelet highlighted, “The economies of all nations, the institutional, political, social and cultural fabric of every state, and the rights of all your people, and future generations, will be impacted [by climate change].”

The Guardian reports, “Bachelet lamented that those sounding the alarm over the devastating impacts of climate change are often attacked.”

That article adds, “UN experts, she said, had ‘noted attacks on environmental human rights defenders in virtually every region, particularly in Latin America’.”

Bachelet says, “The demands made by environmental defenders and activists are compelling, and we should respect, protect and fulfil their rights.”

Last month, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Inger Andersen promised that, “UNEP and the UN Human Rights Office are committed to bringing environmental protection closer to the people by assisting state and non-state actors to promote, protect and respect environmental and human rights. In doing so, we will move towards a more sustainable and just planet.”

In 2018, 61 land and environmental defenders were killed in countries where Peace Brigades International has field projects: 24 were killed in Colombia, 16 in Guatemala, 14 in Mexico, 4 in Honduras, 2 in Kenya and 1 in Indonesia.

Some of the human rights defenders who PBI accompanies are challenging key drivers of climate change. Those include COPINH (hydroelectric dams), the Peaceful Resistance of La Laguna (deforestation), Educa Oaxaca (mining), the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (palm oil plantations), and CCALCP and CREDHOS (fracking).

Bachelet has commented, “We call on leaders and governments to recognise that climate change and environmental degradation severely undermine the human rights of their people, particularly those in vulnerable situations – including the generations of tomorrow.”

This past June, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Philip Alston cautioned, “Human rights might not survive the coming upheaval.”

And John Knox, the former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, has stated, “If we can’t protect [environmental defenders], then how can we protect the environment we all depend on?”

For more, please go to the UN News website for We are ‘burning up our future’, UN’s Bachelet tells Human Rights Council.

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