Human rights, climate change and displacement

Climate change has enormous implications for the enjoyment of a wide range of internationally protected human rights. This is especially the case for people in already vulnerable situations. Over the past 8 years, the international community has taken a number of steps to leverage human rights law and principles to strengthen international responses to global warming. One of the most important impacts of climate change on human beings will be displacement. Already millions of people are forcibly displaced each year by natural disasters. With the effects of climate change, the frequency and intensity of such disasters will further increase, as will the number of people being displaced across borders. Yet, at present the international protection framework for such scenarios is insufficient.

This project presented a critique of attempts, led by the Human Rights Council and its mechanism, to promote a ‘rights-informed’ approach to climate change policy. In the run up to the Paris Agreement, the final report presented recommendations to ensure that the climate change agreement negotiated in December 2015 will serve to promote and protect human rights in the future.

The project also provided counsel on how the international community should address the global protection gap for persons displaced across borders in the context of disasters.