Categories
2019 Human Rights Committee New Zealand Non-refoulement Prohibition of torture Right to life

Ioane Teitiota v. New Zealand

Summary:

The applicant submitted that New Zealand had violated his right to life under the ICCPR by removing him to Kiribati, an island state where, he submitted, the situation was becoming increasingly unstable and precarious due to sea level rise caused by global warming. The HRC accepted the claim that sea level rise and climate change-related harms can trigger non-refoulement obligations, but found that there is still time to take measures to protect the population of Kiribati.

Admissibility:

Concerning the imminence of the risk faced, the Committee noted that the author was not alleging a hypothetical future harm, but a real predicament caused by a lack of potable water and employment possibilities, and a threat of serious violence caused by land disputes. The author had sufficiently demonstrated, for the purpose of admissibility, the existence of a real risk of harm to his right to life, given the impact of climate change and associated sea level rise on the habitability of Kiribati and on the security situation on the islands.

Merits:

The HRC found that environmental degradation can compromise the effective enjoyment of the right to life, and if severe it can violate that right. The Committee accepted the author’s claim that sea level rise is likely to render Kiribati uninhabitable. Without robust national and international efforts, the effects of climate change in receiving States may expose individuals to a violation of articles 6 or 7 ICCPR, thereby triggering the non-refoulement obligations of sending States. However, it noted that the time frame of 10 to 15 years, as suggested by the author, could allow for intervening acts by Kiribati, with the assistance of the international community, to take affirmative measures to protect and, where necessary, relocate its population.

Remedies ordered:

None

Separate opinions:

Yes

Implementation measures taken:

N/A

Date:

24 October 2019

Status of case:

final

Suggested case citation:

Human Rights Committee, Ioane Teitiota v. New Zealand, No. 2728/2016, Communication of 24 October 2019.

Full text:

For the full-text of the decision in the case, click here.

Further reading:

Adaena Sinclair-Blakemore, ‘Teitiota v New Zealand: A Step Forward in the Protection of Climate Refugees under International Human Rights Law?’ Oxford Human Rights Hub, 28th January 2020, https://ohrh.law.ox.ac.uk/teitiota-v-new-zealand-a-step-forward-in-the-protection-of-climate-refugees-under-international-human-rights-law/

Keywords:

climate refugees, affectedness, non-refoulement

Categories
2019 Deforestation Domestic court Emissions reductions India Paris Agreement Right to life

Riddhima Pandey v. Union of India and Others

Summary:

The petitioner, Riddhima Pandey, a 9-year old girl residing in the Indian State of Uttarakhand, approached the National Green Tribunal (a special tribunal exercising jurisdiction over environmental cases) in order to review the State and concerned authorities’ inaction on mitigation measures in the face of climate science, and the systemic failure to implement environmental laws (in a manner that addresses climate change). The petitioner based her claim on the ground that the States duty to take the concerned climate action arose out of the public trust doctrine, which the Supreme Court of India has previously held to be based in fundamental rights, directive principles and the preamble of the Indian Constitution. The application in this case was explicitly inspired by the petition in Juliana v. US where also, the child petitioners invoked the public trust doctrine to contest the US government’s inaction.

The petitioner prayed for the court to, among other things, direct the concerned governmental authorities to properly account for the climate related impacts of industrial and infrastructure projects while granting environmental clearances, account for climate impacts of every individual case of forest diversion and ensuring sufficient compensatory afforestation, direct the government to prepare a national greenhouse gas emissions inventory as well as a national carbon budget against which particular projects’ emissions impacts could be assessed.

Date of decision:

15 January 2019

Tribunals decision:

The National Green Tribunal dismissed the case, reasoning that there is no reason to presume that the existing environmental legislations and regulations already address climate change and require that climate related impacts be sufficiently accounted for during environmental impact assessments.

Status of the case:

Decided.

Suggested case citation:

National Green Tribunal (New Delhi, India), Ridhima Pandey v. Union of India and Others, Application No. 187/2017, judgment of 15 January 2019)

Case documents:

For the petition filed before the National Green Tribunal on 25 March 2017, click here.

For the order of the National Green Tribunal on 15 January 2019, click here.