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UN human rights body turns to climate change PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 30 March 2008

GENEVA, Reuters - Climate change could erode the human rights of people living in small island states, coastal areas and parts of the world subjected to drought and floods, the United Nations Human Rights Council said on Friday.

In its first consideration of the issue, the UN forum's 47 member states endorsed by consensus a resolution stressing that global warming could threaten the livelihoods and welfare of many of the world's most vulnerable people.

They backed the proposal from the Maldives, Comoros, Tuvalu, Micronesia and other countries for "a detained analytical study of the relationship between climate change and human rights," to be conducted by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"Until now, the global discourse on climate change has tended to focus on the physical or natural impacts of climate change," Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed, the Maldives' ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told the session.

"The immediate and far-reaching impact of the phenomenon on human beings around the world has been largely neglected," he said. "It is time to redress this imbalance by highlighting the human face of climate change."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made the fight against climate change one of his top priorities, and encouraged all United Nations agencies to incorporate it into their work.

International experts have warned that the expected impacts of climate change -- including rising sea levels and intense storms, droughts and floods -- could strip millions of people from access to housing, food and clean water.

But diplomats at the United Nations have not yet sought to enshrine the right to protection from the effects of climate change in an international treaty, as has been done for other social and economic rights.

Louise Arbour, a former Canadian Supreme Court justice, has announced she will not seek another term as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights when her tenure ends on June 30. Her successor has not yet been named.

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