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Have human rights died at COP 21?

By December 10, 2015 No Comments


On the day that is supposed to be a celebration of our entitlement to human rights, negotiators killed human rights in the operative parts of what seemed to be the second-to-the final draft of the Paris climate deal.

While it is in the preamble of the text, references to human rights was deleted in the critical operative part of the text.

Big countries like the US, Norway and EU have been reported to be blocking human rights references in the more operative parts of the draft text.

While we saw a complete shift from Norway overnight, it seems that there was still enough concern to keep it out of what could be a close-to-final agreement.

It was in COP20 last year when the Philippines first introduced human rights in the draft of the climate agreement.

In the series of negotiations that ensued, changes in wordings and discussions on whether to put it in the preamble or in the more operative parts became the dominant discourses among the negotiators.

For instance, the word used to introduce human rights in the preamble was changed from yesterday’s draft.  “Emphasizing” was changed to “recognizing”.

Putting it in Article 2.2 would have given it more weight and teeth in the Paris climate deal. It could have legally binded countries which are the major contributors to carbon emissions like the US and EU who are dodging responsibility towards the victims and survivors of climate related disasters.

As a former humanitarian media worker, I have had the experience of seeing first hand how communities and families are affected in the first few days after a big typhoon.

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Climate change has greatly altered our lives. On #HumanRightsDay, I can’t believe this is the case.

I also can’t believe that here, in the land of #Liberty that we would lose our chance to make Human Rights an operative mechanism of our Climate agreement.

For those negotiators currently considering this latest agreement, the first thing I would recommend is that we put Human Rights straight back into operation. If we have any chance of achieving some sense of climate justice, we need to legally bind states to the Human Rights they may affect.

On the eve of #HumanRightsDay, make it right!

Jed Alegado

Author Jed Alegado

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