By Dr. Zoi Aliozi Human rights professor/ lawyer/ activist/ CRW’s Secretary General
--> Check out the 12th editorial of our human rights e-magazine*: ‘Citizens Voices’!
Citizens Voices is an online human rights magazine, which serves as a platform for raising human rights awareness.
Every and any citizen around the world can become a human rights defender by simply raising their voices against injustices.
Citizens Voices No 12 is the first volume of our triennial human rights magazine for 2019, and it includes articles written by human rights advocates, defenders, activists, academics, lawyers, and concerned citizens around the globe, on a variety of human rights issues.
You are all invited to put your pen in the service of human rights, and submit an article for the next Citizens Voices. More info here.
2018 is coming to an end as I write this editorial, and although there have been many issues worth mentioning, my mind is set on how this year has been instrumental in the way the international human rights community is viewing climate change and its relationship to human rights.
So, this editorial will focus on climate change and human rights, and become a small contribution in raising awareness of this fountain of urgent human rights injustices.
Civil society, academia, research, and even pioneering politicians like Mary Robinson, and the president of the Maldives, has advocated for years about the necessity to save humanity from the human-made catastrophes on the environment, however, there is still room for climate change deniers to undermine this process. First of all, it needs to be made clear, that:
Climate Change has implications for the full enjoyment of Human Rights.
The United Nations on 2008, (Human Rights Council Resolution 7/23 on human rights and climate change ), for the first time openly recognized their actual inter-connected and mutually reinforcing relationship.
It is a fact today, that climate change is undermining the fulfillment of a number of internationally protected human rights, like the: rights to health and life; rights to food, water, shelter and property; rights associated with livelihood and culture; with migration and resettlement; and with personal security in the event of conflict , to name but a few.
It should be stressed that the worst effects of climate change are likely to be felt by those individuals and groups whose rights protections are already insufficient, so it is again the most vulnerable that will need to be sacrificed before the UN and the leaders of our world take real action.
Climate Change’s links to the human rights regime, rise from the simple fact that human-made climate change affects the Human Rights of all.
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
“Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which [their] rights and freedoms ... can be fully realized.”
Climate change interrupts this process and the realization of fundamental basic human rights.
However as some scholars argue, the times of emergency arrived, that no compromises are allowed, in the sense that now is the time to design the international and social order of which the writers of the Universal Declaration envisaged.
Intergenerational justice and the rights of the future generations are earning ground in the human rights legal regime, and these cannot be ensured without safeguarding a habitable environment and a healthy planet, is as simple as that.
While human rights law, has a crucial role to play in the further evolvement of climate justice, it is notable, that even human rights law does not have a complete universal enforceability. The sovereignty of the States, the multi-cultural element, and many other factors add to the seemingly impossible task of an actual and real global enforcement of human rights.
While this is an obstacle that is a matter of time for international law to overcome; it is however a reality and it would be hypocritical to present human rights law as the ideal piece of international law – from theory to practice.
Law from theory to practice has a long journey and many obstacles to overcome.
A human rights based approach demands, that the exercise of climate policies, the choice of strategies, allocation of resources, assessments, as well as further amendments of the climate change’s legal framework – would have as a starting point the human rights – the chief and principal standards for acquiring an official international ‘green light’ to realize these climate justice’s policies, and to act lawfully and not ultra vires , would be the human rights regime’s canons, principles and rules.
So, human rights should be the protagonist. In this line of reasoning it would be useful to consider Article 4.1(f) of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change, which demands from signatory States to:
“Take climate change considerations into account, to the extent feasible, in their relevant social, economic and environmental policies and actions...”
The future of Climate Justice depends on the inclusion of human rights.
We all need to acknowledge the duty imposed upon all of us, into assisting the Climate Justice field of study and the Climate Change actions, and hopefully to witness a reversal of the unjustifiably inactive, or better put, weak current state of the international institutional negotiations, and likewise, to fuel actions and not just further dialogues on these matters.
Turning a blind eye on the effects of Climate Change in spreading unfairness, human rights violations and crimes against humanity, is not an option.
The time for putting the plans into action is now.
This is a call for global justice
to fulfill her promise.
The time is now for humanity to work together in tackling the catastrophic consequences that human-made Climate Change brings.
This is not an action science fiction film, it is real life, our earth is threatened by our own mismanagement, disrespect, and exploitation of natural resources. The future of our children and of our planet is proven by solid scientific facts that is uncertain.
The peoples and global civil society has also a role to play in this historic and defining for humankind’s survival threat.
We all share responsibility for our home’s well-being, sustainable management, our planet’s survival and for the right to life of future generations. As UN Secretary General António Guterres has said:
“Human Rights Defenders give voice to the voiceless and shield the powerless against injustice. They work to empower people through education, and help to protect other human rights defenders from harassment, intimidation or arrest.”
This is what we try to do through our work for human rights.
In Citizens Rights Watch-CRW, we aim in raising awareness of human rights, collaborating and supporting human rights defenders all around the globe.
Our main focus is on digital activism, and through the use of new technologies, internet, and social media, we aim in publicizing injustices, mobilizing citizens to demand their rights, and throwing light in practices that need to become fairer.
What we do here in CRW, is to advocate for human rights through a citizens rights prism. We aim into employing digital tools in raising human rights awareness, which fortunately have little cost, and demand less time to function in reaching our goals.
When there are no tools available, we work on creating these tools, like for example by creating our digital mobile app, which can foster the involvement of citizens with human rights issues that are neglected by the mainstream media.
Our dedicated to citizens happiness, human rights advocacy and monitoring CRW’s Mobile App, offers a platform to human rights activists for highlighting rights violations, inform the public about urgent human rights issues, mobilize civil society, and push governments into keeping their promises for human rights protection by monitoring their human rights policies.
Join us in our work for human rights and become a citizen activist, and remember that:
You don’t have to wait for others to save humanity and the planet.
Join the global movement by taking every day #ClimateAction, #StandUp4HumanRights and #KnowYourRights.
Z.A. CRW's SG
*( Originally published in human rights e-magazine: CITIZENS VOICES No. 12, Jan 2019)