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This subject will introduce and explore the main concepts, laws, institutions and policies at the intersection of international climate change law and international human rights law.
Specifically, this subject will explore two aspects of the intersection between climate change and human rights. First it will explore the nature and extent to which the impacts of climate change and response measures to address climate change can affect the realization of core human rights. It will examine the substantive and procedural rights afforded through national, regional and international instruments to those affected by environmental harms, and the ways in which such rights can be extended to cover climate harms. It will in this context analyze cases in national, regional and international courts and tribunals that engage human rights in the context of climate harms. Second, this subject will examine the treatment of human rights in the international climate change regime, and the prospects for further integration of human rights concerns in the regime.
More broadly, through a study of these two aspects, this subject will examine the potential, prospects and limits of international law in protecting the rights of those affected by climate harm.
Principal topics include:
- Articulation of environmental protection in the language of human rights, both substantive and procedural, in international, regional and national human rights systems, instruments and case law
- Autonomous ‘right to a healthy environment’ and its extension to a healthy climate
- ‘Greening’ of established rights such as the right to life, health and privacy, and their extension to protection from climate harms
- Treatment of human rights in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol, the 2015 Paris Agreement, and the 2018 Katowice Rules
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this course will:
- Have a sophisticated understanding of the conceptual architecture of the international and regional human rights system as well as the international climate change regime within which the human rights implications of climate change impacts can be addressed.
- Have knowledge of the full range of substantive and procedural rights that can be invoked to offer protection against environmental and climate harm.
- Have insight into the potential and limits of the autonomous healthy right to the environment, and the extent to which it can be extended to cover a healthy climate.
- Have nuanced appreciation of the potential and limits of international climate change law and international human rights law in protecting the rights of those affected by climate harm.
- Have the skills to sift through and interpret a range of UN Resolutions, UNFCCC documents, decisions and instruments.
- Have the ability to make sharp, targeted, insightful, well-researched and original interventions in debates relating to climate change and human rights.
- Have the expertise to marshal facts and evidence in making a convincing argument, if litigating cases relating to climate change and human rights.
Last updated: 3 November 2022