The Impact of Climate Change on the Rights of the Child: Challenge for Realizing the Rights of the Child under the Convention on the Rights of the Child

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Addis Ababa University


Because of the increasing adverse impacts of climate change on the environment and consequent negative effects on the enjoyment of virtually the whole range of human rights protected under different national, regional and international legal instruments. There is an increasing empirical evidence proving that climate change is not only about change in temperature, precipitation level, melting of the ice or rise in the sea level, but also up hold the enjoyment of human rights. But, as the level of human impact much depends on the adaption and resilience capacity of States, there is usually variation even among different groups in a certain State or internationally, owing to vulnerability factors such as, gender, age, dependence and others. Among others, due to their particularly sensitive physiological, metabolic and cognitive immaturity and reliance on adults, children are more prone to the adverse effects of climate change than adults. In spite of these, the international effort to put right the problem through a binding comprehensive accord, though indispensible, is too sluggish, often entangled and incomprehensive in terms of addressing human rights dimensions. It is, therefore, indispensible to explore and utilize human rights frameworks as a complementary approach. Though the right to clean and healthy environment is not explicitly recognized under major international human rights instruments, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the already existing human rights normative standards can be reinterpreted to encompass the enjoyment of an environment of a particular quality so as to afford the full protection the rights protection aspire. This, human rights based approach, is a relatively sustained approach and widely pursued in the human right-climate change justificatory arguments. On the basis of this integrative approach, this study inquires into the direct and indirect adverse impacts of climate change on the rights of the child as set forth under the Convention on the Rights of the Child; focusing on the right to life, survival and development, the right to health, the right to adequate standard of living. It then moves on to explore the normative basis upon which States obligation to act to prevent damages caused by climate change hinges upon, norms applicable to establish States’ responsibility and, finally, the role the Committee on the Rights of the Child can play in monitoring and enforcing States obligations vis-à-vis the impact of climate change on the rights of the child – based on its mandates as enunciated under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.



Rights Of The Child Under