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APF submits amicus brief to landmark inquiry

Graphic: Farmers working in a field, Philippines

The APF and GANHRI have made a joint contribution to an inquiry investigating the links between carbon emissions, climate change and human rights.

The APF and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) have submitted an amicus brief to a landmark inquiry in the Philippines investigating the links between carbon emissions, climate change and human rights.

In September 2015, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, together with 13 Filipino civil society organisations and 18 individuals, petitioned the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines to investigate "the responsibility of the Carbon Majors for human rights violations or threats of violations resulting from the impacts of climate change".

The 47 respondents to the petition – the 'Carbon Majors' – are investor-owned oil, natural gas and coal producers and cement manufacturers.

The petitioners argue that the adverse effects of climate change threaten the enjoyment of a range of internationally-protected human rights, most critically the rights to life, to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, to food, to water, to sanitation, to adequate housing, and to self-determination.

They also claim that the Carbon Majors have a responsibility for adverse human rights impacts as a result of their contribution to global climate change and their failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their activities and their products, despite the capacity to do so, and their knowledge of the harms posed by climate change.

Fisherman on boat at dawn, Myanmar

Read a summary of the inquiry – its background and the legal questions that it will consider – available on the Greenpeace website.

The APF's brief notes that the adverse connection between climate change and human rights "is supported in numerous Human Rights Council resolutions and can therefore be regarded as uncontroversial".

It summarises developments in the practice of States and international human rights bodies concerning the interconnected nature of all human rights, the human rights obligations of corporations, as well as on the exercise of jurisdiction.

The brief concludes that the Commission has authority to investigate the petition, on the basis of both domestic and international law.

It also argues that human rights law provides a means to tackle loss and damage and hold to account human rights duty bearers, including corporations, for human rights violations associated with the impacts of climate change.

Date: 16 May 2017

Image credits

  1. Farmers working in a field, Philippines - Edward Musiak, Flickr; http://bit.ly/2qneVp7
  2. Fisherman on boat at dawn, Myanmar - APF/Benjamin Lee