Journal of Penal Law and Criminology
International Human Rights Law as a Mechanism for Coping with Climate ChangeCüneyt Yüksel
The negative impacts of climate change emerge more intensely with each day. Moreover, the fear is that these negative effects will further increase if the current situation continues as is. The risks brought about by global climate change will obviously have important consequences on human rights. In this context, climate change and the measures that are or will be taken for coping with this threat are seen to have been evaluated within a human rights-oriented approach, especially in recent years. Indeed, the effective use of mechanisms established by international law for the purpose of protecting human rights can be anticipated to play an important role in minimizing the negative impacts of climate change. However, the unique nature of the relationship between climate change and human rights brings with it some debates that need to be resolved. This article concerns itself with the approach adopted in this new challenge encountered by international law through an analysis of the developments observed through the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, the policy-making processes of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, and the United Nations.
İklim Değişikliğiyle Mücadelede Bir Araç Olarak Uluslararası İnsan Hakları HukukuCüneyt Yüksel
İklim değişikliğinin olumsuz etkileri her geçen gün kendini daha fazla hissettirmektedir. Üstelik mevcut durumun devam etmesi halinde bu olumsuz etkilerin daha da artacağından endişe edilmektedir. Küresel bir sorun olan iklim değişikliğinin barındırdığı bu risklerin insan hakları açısından önemli sonuçları olacağı aşikardır. Bu çerçevede, özellikle son yıllarda, iklim değişikliği ve bu tehditle mücadelede alınan yahut alınması gereken önlemlerin insan hakları odaklı bir yaklaşımla değerlendirildiği görülmektedir. Gerçekten de uluslararası hukukun insan haklarının korunması bağlamında oluşturduğu mekanizmaların etkin kullanımı iklim değişikliğinin olumsuz sonuçlarının en aza indirgenmesinde önemli rol oynaması beklenebilir. Lakin iklim değişikliği ve insan hakları arasındaki etkileşimin kendine özgü niteliği çözümlenmesi gereken bazı tartışmaları da beraberinde getirmektedir. Bu çalışmada milletlerarası hukukun karşılaştığı bu yeni mücadele sırasıyla Avrupa İnsan Hakları Mahkemesi içtihatları ile Avrupa Konseyi Parlamenterler Meclisi, Avrupa Konseyi Bakanlar Komitesi ve Birleşmiş Milletler nezdinde yürütülen politika yapım süreçleri ışığında incelenecektir.
Climate change emerges as a global problem directly affecting daily life, and its negative consequences will inevitably result in a deterioration of human rights. This reality has led to many attempts that rely on the current human rights mechanisms for coping with the climate crisis, and the relationship between climate change and human rights is becoming more intense with each passing day. Indeed, such mechanisms require states not only to refrain from violating human rights but also to protect these rights by fulfilling their positive obligations. This tripartite research aims to analyze how the relevant international institutions observe the link between climate change and human rights.
The first part of this article draws a general outline of climate change from a human rights-oriented perspective. Climate change is actually expected to worsen the enjoyment of various human rights such as the rights to life, to property, to health, and to food. Human rights lawyers argue that states have certain positive obligations such as taking the necessary measures to adapt to the consequences of climate change in addition to refraining from actions that may increase the effects of climate change. Even though confirming this idea is possible at first glance, this progressive approach still has much to enlighten. Balancing competing rights is also a matter that needs to be resolved, because taking preventive measures against climate change in order to protect human rights on its own may also imply limitations on certain human rights. Moreover, due to climate change being a problem without boundaries, the question of how to allocate responsibility for these measures in order to promote human rights also requires attention.
The second part of this article focuses on the responses the European Council has shown toward climate change’s actual and potential negative consequences regarding human rights. In this context, the article examines the respective approaches of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe toward this matter. While the ECHR has made no decisions about the issue yet in terms of applications, it does have jurisprudence that might also be relevant in terms of climate change as well. Although the European Convention on Human Rights has no specific article able to be directly linked to climate change, the Court can still act on the matter in cases involving a significant provable disadvantage regarding rights protected by the Convention, such as the right to life or the right to respect for private and family life, home, and correspondence. In addition, policy-making proposals are seen at the parliamentary level, with such initiatives becoming more likely to succeed when considering the fact that public awareness about climate change-related threats is rising.
The third part of this article questions the role of the United Nations (UN) in regard to minimizing the negative effects human-induced global warming has on human rights. The UN has already introduced certain international legal instruments that directly focus on climate change. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is a general guide that states the principles for preventing and minimizing the negative consequences of climate change. Additionally, the Twin Covenants (i.e., the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) impose obligations on states to improve the rights and well-being of the individuals in their jurisdiction. In light of such international norms, this section summarizes the means and methods for protecting human rights against climate-related risk and how these are implemented by treaty monitoring organs such as the Human Rights Committee and the UN Human Rights Council.