Open Letter to Establish a New UN Special Rapporteur on Climate Change

Photo: Meeting room of the UN Human Rights Council.
Ludovic Courtès CC BY-SA 3.0

ATD supports establishing a new UN Special Rapporteur on climate change

ATD has signed the following open letter:

To the States Members and Observers of the United Nations Human Rights Council

As the 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) is taking place from 21 June to 15 July, 2021, the undersigned civil society and Indigenous Peoples organizations call on the UN member States through the HRC to establish at this session a new UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change.

Climate change is an existential threat for humanity, jeopardizing the realization of all human rights for present and future generations.

As the impacts of the climate crisis worsen and aggravate intersecting forms of discrimination against various peoples, individuals and groups in our societies, action can no longer be postponed at the HRC and urgent measures to protect people and the planet must be adopted. The issue of climate change cannot only be left any more to interesting interactive dialogues or to the existing different Special Procedures to address it when they can, even if their various contributions have been remarkable.

The creation of such a dedicated Special Rapporteur mandate focusing on the challenges of climate change is a longstanding request by a growing number of civil society organizations and of Indigenous Peoples, given that a dedicated mandate would enable the HRC to elevate its work on climate change in a systematic and sustainable way, protect people from runaway climate change and its unavoidable impacts, and promote respect for human rights in climate responses. Simply put, climate change must be a higher priority at the HRC.

In 2019, the Marshall Islands, on behalf of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), called for the creation of a dedicated HRC Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change at the 25th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. In the past two years, this proposal has gained momentum amongst States. During the 46th session of the HRC in March 2021, in an unprecedented move, a cross-regional group of 56 States joined Bangladesh in a statement that called upon Council members to consider creating this new mandate.

It is now time to act on these statements. We, the undersigned, thus reiterate our call urging States to establish a new Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change at the 47th session of the Human Rights Council.

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