Climate Change and Security: Human Rights Challenges and Opportunities in Small Island Developing States
8 April 2021, 4:00-5:30pm (New York) / 9 April 2020, 8:00-9:30am (Suva)
Online Briefing Session organized by Pacific Islands Forum, UN Department of Peacebuilding and Policital Affairs and UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States
This event provides a platform to (i) highlight recent analysis of the nexus of climate-related security risks and human rights in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), including opportunities to engage with international human rights mechanisms, and (ii) share work underway by national governments and the United Nations to promote successful, human-rights based, climate-security related policies, and exchange good practices. The event has been arranged in close partnership with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The increasing frequency of extreme weather events and disasters linked to natural hazards, for instance rising sea levels, floods, heat waves, droughts, desertification, and water shortages, are among the many adverse consequences of climate change which can have impacts on the stability and security of communities in SIDS. These phenomena also directly and indirectly threaten the full and effective enjoyment of a range of human rights by people in SIDS, including, among others, the right to life.
These changes will disproportionately affect individuals, groups and peoples in vulnerable situations including, women, children, older persons, indigenous peoples, minorities, migrants, rural workers, persons with disabilities and those living in poverty. These groups are also among those most likely to be affected by climate-related security risks. For instance, the loss of land and livelihoods, against a backdrop of persistent poverty, marginalization, displacement and other insecurities, can trigger intensified competition for natural resources and fuel social tensions. Demographic trends, migration, displacement and rapid urbanization converge with climate change, increasing risks for the most vulnerable.
Responses to climate-related security risks, both nationally and internationally must also be rights-based. Climate change resilience, mitigation and adaptation efforts as well as efforts to avert, minimize and address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts, should be ambitious, non-discriminatory and compliant with human rights obligations. The Human Rights Council, the human rights mechanisms (the special procedures including special rapporteurs, the human rights treaty bodies and the Universal Periodic Review), and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights are focusing attention on the linkages between human rights and climate change, including through a series of resolutions, reports, and activities on the subject, and by advocating for a human rights-based approach to climate change. This session further explores these linkages between climate-related security risks and human rights.
4:00 PM – Welcome and opening remarks
- H.E. Mr. Samuelu Laloniu, Permanent Representative of Tuvalu and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum
- Ms. Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS
- H.E. Ms. Nazhat Shameem Khan, President of the Human Rights Council and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Fiji to the United Nations in Geneva (by recorded video message)
4:15 PM – Pre-recorded address
4:30 PM - Presentations on climate security and human rights in Small Island Developing States
- Mr. David Boyd, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment
- Mr. Samuel K. Lanwi, Jr., Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the United Nations in Geneva
- Ms. Ilze Brands Kehris, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights
- Ms. Heike Alefsen, OHCHR Regional Representative for the Pacific (ROP)
- Mr. Robert Vaughan, OHCHR ROP, Human Rights Officer, focal point for climate change, environment, and business and human rights
5:10 PM - Discussion: next steps towards addressing common priorities on climate change-related security risks and human rights
Moderated by Ms. Lia Nicholson, Climate and Strategic Partnership Advisor, Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda
- How are Member States pro-actively addressing human rights aspects of climate-related security challenges e.g. internal displacement, social cohesion, land-conflict risks?
- How can the international human rights architecture be harnessed to help address climate-related security risks?
- What are the roles for development partners and multilateral institutions in effectively responding to climate-security risks and related human rights challenges?
5:25 PM - Closing Remarks
- Mr. Khaled Khiari, Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations
5:30 PM - End