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This subject will provide a state-of-the-art, up-to-date overview of the phenomenon of climate change and how it affects the enjoyment of human rights. While all human rights issues will be addressed in the subject, an emphasis will be placed on climate displacement, an understanding of the dynamics of climate displacement, the countries that are now and will in future be most heavily affected and the legal and policy measures that will be required to ensure that all climate-displaced persons are afforded rights-based and viable solutions to their displacement. By approaching this challenging issue in this manner, the subject will provide students with an in-depth understanding of the legal issues involved, how they can be invoked and where work is under way today to protect human rights in the era of climate change in which we all now live. There will be an emphasis on several of the most affected countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Kiribati, Maldives, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and the United States.
Principal topics include:
- Climate change and human rights: theory, perspectives and predictions
- The reality of the human rights impacts of climate change
- International law and climate change
- Housing, land and property rights dimensions of climate displacement
- Climate change solutions in practice: protecting the rights of communities threatened by climate change; role-play classroom exercises on resolving climate displacement
- Human rights mechanisms for addressing climate displacement
- Land acquisition as a primary solution to climate displacement
- Classroom debate on a new convention on human rights and climate change: good or bad idea?
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced understanding the phenomenon of climate change, its likely scale, the countries most heavily affected, how it manifests and the role of international human rights law in finding solutions to resolve climate displacement
- Have a sophisticated appreciation of the problems and the potential of international law, in particular human rights law, with respect to addressing climate displacement and the human rights of those affected
- Understand the particular human rights challenges facing the most heavily affected countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Kiribati, Maldives, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, the United States and how these may best be addressed through a legal and human rights approach
- Understand the key actors in the area of climate displacement including human rights treaty bodies, UN agencies, national governments, civil society actors and affected communities
- Broadly understand the complex relationships between climate change, displacement and the application of human rights and other laws in the search for solutions
- Be able to directly apply international human rights laws to discrete situations of climate displacement.
Last updated: 3 November 2022