Journal of Human Rights and the Environment

Human rights in the climate change regime

Naomi Roht-Arriaza *

Keywords: human rights, climate change, rights violations, clean development mechanism, REDD+, indigenous peoples, biofuels, private environmental standards


The current and emerging international architecture to mitigate and adapt to climate change has significant implications for the enjoyment of human rights. This article considers these implications, looking at a number of problematic areas where the climate change regime may cause human rights violations. These include some projects under the Clean Development Mechanism, including large hydropower and biomass projects. Use of biofuels, choices on energy and adaptation, and avoided deforestation (known as REDD) can also create human rights problems for local communities, especially indigenous peoples and rural residents. The article then considers ways to avoid creating new human rights violations as we pursue climate mitigation and adaptation, including linking the climate change and human rights regimes, the use of private standards, and creating an expert mechanism within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

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