Global solidarity a must in upcoming climate change talks, says UN rights expert

Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity Virginia Dandan. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

23 November 2012 – Ahead of new climate change talks next week, an independent United Nations human rights expert today called on countries to rally behind the idea of helping those less able to deal with the impacts of this global problem.

“The costs of climate change to humanity cannot be covered only by accomplishing the commitments in finance for adaptation and mitigation,” said the Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity, Virginia Dandan.

“International solidarity can be the bridge to support nations affected by impacts of climate change, whether rich or poor,” she added in a press release.

Ms. Dandan is mandated by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to develop a draft resolution on the right of peoples and individuals to international solidarity.

She issued her remarks as representatives from 194 countries prepare to meet in the Qatari capital of Doha from 26 November to 7 December to try, among other goals, to extend the Kyoto Protocol, the existing plan for curbing greenhouse gas emissions by developed nations that expires at the end of 2012.

“The international community must be prepared to give much more than money,” Ms. Dandan said as she went on to link climate change challenges to the question of promoting sustainable development, which aims to meet human needs through resource-use that also preserves the environment, and was central to the landmark UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil in June this year.

“We need world leaders with the courage to rise above narrow political and economic self-interest, towards fulfilling the promise of sustainable development made in Rio+20, and the eradication of poverty that is both the cause and effect of deeply entrenched inequalities and human rights deprivations, particularly of the most marginalized and vulnerable,” she said.

The expert stressed that international solidarity on climate change was “key” to helping build global backing for more equitable arrangements for climate change. She added this was particularly true for investments, finance, aid, debt, technology transfer, intellectual property, migration, environment and the global partnership for development.

“Most vulnerable nations cannot pay for what other nations have done or are doing today,” Ms. Dandan said, as she asked developed countries not to back down from their longstanding commitments, and also asked those rising economic powers who have become new polluters to do their part.

“In this project, we are all together,” she said.

Climate negotiations held last year in Durban, South Africa, produced important outcomes, including agreement to establish a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, and the launch of the Green Climate Fund, and the launch of a protocol or legal instrument that would apply to all members to be negotiated by 2015 and implemented from 2020.

Ms. Dandan urged those heading to Doha “to focus their hearts and minds on their families and communities back home, as well as on the rest of the human family, whose very right to life is at stake on that table, and whose common present and future, are in their hands.”

She saw an urgent need for a new cooperation model that would be built on a multilateral response to the mounting challenges posed by climate change. Implemented in the spirit of international solidarity, the new model would be guided by the “human rights approach to the principles of equity and of common, but differentiated, responsibilities.”

“We have all witnessed in alarming frequency how, in the blink of an eye, human lives and decades of development gains can be totally wiped out, resulting in heart-breaking loss of lives, property and, for many, hope for the future,” Ms. Dandan said. “No country in the world today has been spared the effects of some form of extreme weather occurrence; not a single country can move forward in isolation.”

Independent experts are appointed in an honorary capacity. Ms. Dandan received her mandate in 2005 from the UN Human Rights Commission, which the Human Rights Council replaced a year later.


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