Mary Robinson Joins Commonwealth Human Rights Bodies in Call for Global Climate Justice Response

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4 December 2015

As the climate change summit in Paris continues, the Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights have adopted The St. Julian Declaration on Climate Justice, calling for “a global response to dealing with the consequences of climate change by ensuring the explicit recognition of human rights in the new Climate Agreement.”

Mary Robinson, the seventh President of Ireland and President of the Mary Robinson Foundation stated:

“It is significant that experts from the Commonwealth National Human Rights Institutions are demonstrating leadership and commitment to the values of climate justice ahead of the opening of the Paris climate change conference. A successful agreement will be measured by how it protects the people who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. To achieve this, the agreement will have to uphold the principles of the Convention and the normative framework of the United Nations including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights; so the recognition of the relationship between human rights and climate change by experts via the St. Julian Declaration is very welcome.”

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission Chief Commissioner & Chair of the Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutes, Les Allamby commented:

“The St. Julian Declaration represents the view of the Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions that “climate justice provides a robust framework for dealing with climate change impacts by ensuring that the rights of most vulnerable populations are taken into account and requiring response measures to be fair, equitable and transparent.” ”

The Declaration, which is the result of a working group on climate change chaired by the Scottish Human Rights Commission, calls upon Commonwealth Heads of Government to “prioritise human rights in their discussion, and recognise the links between human rights, climate change and sustainable development”. This is of particular significance as 45 of the 100 countries classified globally as most vulnerable to climate change are within the Commonwealth of Nations.

Climate change can impact on human rights directly with increasing concern over water supply and food security, means of subsistence, availability of housing and health conditions. The Declaration acknowledges that while the impacts of climate change will be global, the effects will be most severe for people who are already vulnerable because of geography, poverty, gender, disability, age, indigenous and minority status.

Notes to editors

1. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution. It is an independent statutory body first proposed in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement (1998) and established in 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act (1998). It is answerable to Parliament at Westminster.

2. The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has begun the role of Chair of the Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions. The Commission will hold the role until 2017.

3. The Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (CFNHRI) is an informal and inclusive body of Commonwealth National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and other national accountability mechanisms having a human rights mandate. It has 39 members Commonwealth Members: Africa; Asia; Caribbean; European; North America & Pacific Members. Members include New Zealand, Canada, Africa, Uganda, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. NHRIs play an important role in ensuring that internationally accepted human rights standards result in improved enjoyment of human rights on the ground within their respective countries.

4. The mandate of the Forum is to promote networking, sharing of information, experiences and best practices, encouraging countries to establish Paris Principle-compliant NHRIs, and assisting national institutions to fulfil their mandated activities. The Forum is intended to complement and support the activities of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and existing regional coordination or accreditation bodies.

5. Find out more about the work of the Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions at:

6 The St. Julian Declaration can be found here

04 Dec 2015