PBI-Canada welcomes report on climate change by UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity

Published by Brent Patterson on

The Toronto-based United Nations Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity, Obiora Chinedu Okafor, recently presented his report on International solidarity and climate change to the UN Human Rights Council.

His 20-page report notes:

“An important goal of the report is to better illuminate the role of human rights-based international solidarity in responding to climate change, which is a common concern of humanity.

There is troubling evidence that environmental defenders face criminalization, which exacerbates oppression on the basis of race, given that many are racialized and indigenous peoples.

In the spirit of fellowship, however, “defenders” of these defenders are organizing to assist those on the frontlines.

Therefore, environmental defenders, and their defenders, are demonstrating the utmost solidarity with communities and everyone who faces the negative effects of climate change-related projects by upholding human rights through their direct actions.”

The report also makes mention of State responsibilities:

“[The Escazú Agreement] specifically guarantees the rights to life, personal integrity and peaceful assembly in solidarity with environmental defenders.

States have duties to regulate corporations to protect the international human rights of people living at home and abroad, including environmental rights.

The Supreme Court of Canada has recently found that it is not plain and obvious that corporations enjoy a blanket exclusion under customary international law from liability for violating the human rights of individuals in another State.”

And among the conclusions in the report:

“States, corporations and financial institutions, particularly the highest emitting States, in historical and contemporary terms, should consider ceasing to pursue the exploration of and new investments in fossil fuels as a matter of human rights-based international solidarity, since the shared carbon budget will be exceeded if already existing and proposed fossil fuel developments proceed;

States and corporations should cooperate to reform basic transnational norms of corporate governance to ensure that corporate decision-making prioritizes the protection of international human rights threatened by climate change over profits and other financial interests;”

To read the full report, please click here.

For a 13-minute video of the presentation of this report, please click here.

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