This workshop is organised by the Centre for Fundamental Rights at the Hertie School, the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE, the University of Stirling and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU.
As a reaction to scientists’ ominous message that humanity is running out of time to avert a climate collapse, individuals and groups around the world are increasingly turning to judicial and quasi-judicial bodies to seek remedies for climate protection. This recent surge of climate crisis litigation has not only taken place before domestic courts in both the Global South and the Global North but also before international human rights courts and bodies, both at the regional and at the United Nations level. In 2019, a group of children, including Greta Thunberg, filed a petition with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child against Germany, France, Turkey, Brazil and Argentina. In January 2020, in the decision Teitiota v. New Zealand, the United Nations Human Rights Committee found that the climate crisis might engage non-refoulment obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Later in the same year, six children from Portugal brought a case against all Council of Europe member states before the European Court of Human Rights.
Against this background, the aim of this workshop is to appraise the potentials and limits of bringing climate crisis cases before international human rights courts and bodies. How far can international human rights bodies go in interpreting human rights law to prevent and remedy climate-related harm? To what extent does the architecture of international human rights law limit the adjudicators’ capacity to protect substantive and procedural rights from climate-related risks? Why do individuals and groups mobilise to take the climate crisis before international human rights courts and bodies? What are the risks of reaching out to international courts and bodies before exhausting domestic routes? What role does a diversity of voices, identities, and narratives play in shaping the strategies to bring climate cases before international human rights bodies? Can international human rights bodies act as catalysts for change at the domestic level and in international climate negotiations? Are international human rights bodies capable of designing remedies that address the climate crisis in a relevant and impactful manner? How do distinctive issues pertaining to the interaction between states and international human rights bodies ‒ such as the compliance of orders, resistance and backlash to legitimacy, the margin of appreciation, and the balance of rights ‒ unfold in the context of climate litigation? What scientific and global equity standards should international bodies apply in assessing different states’ human rights duties concerning climate mitigation and adaptation?
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