In October 2021, Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) filed a complaint with three Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. This complaint was made on behalf of five young individuals residing in Australia and pertains to the ‘human rights harms’ caused by the Australian government’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and its perceived inaction regarding climate change. EJA alleges that the Australian government is breaching international agreements, such as the Paris Agreement, and various United Nations instruments, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The claim in this case asserts that the Australian government’s actions, particularly its NDC and its inaction on climate change, violate international agreements and human rights obligations. The complaint argues that these actions infringe upon several United Nations instruments, including the Paris Agreement, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The complainants contend that the government’s contributions to climate change potentially violate fundamental rights, including the right to health, life, family relations, an adequate standard of living, education, freedom from violence or exploitation, and the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. They also assert that these actions disproportionately impact young people, First Nations peoples, and individuals with disabilities, thus violating their rights as recognized in international law. The claim in the petition urges the Special Rapporteurs to intervene by seeking clarification from the Australian government regarding the alignment of its NDC with its human rights obligations and its consistency with a 1.5-degree climate pathway. It also requests an explanation of how the government’s NDC decision-making process has engaged young people in Australia. The claim further calls on Australia to establish a 2030 emissions reduction target that complies with its human rights obligations, especially regarding the rights of young people and the complainants.
The complaint is accessible for download here and below.
Status of the case:
Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) v. Australia, United Nations Special Rapporteurs, 25 October 2021 (United Nations).
03 November 2023.