Systemic integration between climate change and human rights in international law?

Ottavio Quirico*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    UN human rights organs have persistently invoked the integration of fundamental rights into the UNFCCC regime and the Paris Agreement now provides that the ‘Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights’. How integration should be achieved is nevertheless a matter of international law development. At the regional level, a tendency seems to progressively emerge to ground integration in the fundamental right to a sustainable environment. Against such a background, it is argued in this article that a third generation environmental claim simplifies the complex establishment of a causal nexus between anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and first and second generation fundamental rights. This would allow international human rights protection mechanisms to be triggered based on (minimum) reduction targets under the UNFCCC regime. The international recognition of a human right to a sustainable environment therefore emerges as fundamental to determining human rights responsibility for climate change, with particular regard to States. It thus facilitates systemically integrating fundamental rights into climate change regulation and taking consequential institutional action. This argument adds strings to the bow of those scholars who support the idea of intergenerational environmental justice on legal and moral grounds.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)31-50
    Number of pages20
    JournalNetherlands Quarterly of Human Rights
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


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