Landmark ruling from the UN's Human Rights Committee on "climate refugees": January 23, 2020
Landmark ruling from the UN's Human Rights Committee on "climate refugees": January 23, 2020Landmark ruling from the UN's Human Rights Committee on "climate refugees": January 23, 2020
This week it was announced that Ioane Teitiota lost his case in the UN’s Human Rights Committee. Teitiota claimed refugee status saying climate change had affected his right to life, asking not to be deported to Kiribati. New Zealand had given this ruling originally, so this decision has upheld the original ruling. In looking into the news, Lillian saw a Twitter thread by John Knox, a Professor of International Law and the former UN Special Raportuer on Human Rights and the Environment. This role was established in 2012, and has a particular focus on people who are affected by the climate emergency. Knox had found some of the reporting on the issue misleading, particularly regarding the use of the term 'climate refugee', saying "the Human Rights Committee is a body of independent experts mandated to oversee compliance with the Int’l Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) ... one of its tasks is to consider complaints from individuals alleging violations of the Covenant. The definition it uses for refugees is not one that includes people fleeing climate effects". However, this case has been reported as hugely significant for what it might mean in the future as it recognises that the conditions from the climate could very well change and directly impact a persons right to life. Knox states that "under the ICCPR even those who aren’t “refugees” have the right not to be returned to a country if doing so would cause a risk of irreparable harm to their rights to life (art. 6) or to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment (art. 7)". Lillian got in touch with him to understand more about why this is indeed a landmark case and what it could mean in the future. They started by discussing the role of a UN Special Raportuer.
NOTE: 95bFM is trying to get in touch with Ioane Teitiota.