Sunday, December 9, 2018

USA gets the Fossil Award for arguing against inclusion of mention of human rights



Eleanor Roosevelt would be turning in her grave at the current US Administration antics at COP24.

Yes, the USA picks up today's Fossil award for their arguments on excluding mention of human rights in the Paris rulebook, when they are specifically mentioned in the preamble of the Paris Agreement.

Concerns were raised earlier about whether human rights were being included in Paris Agreement rulebook at COP24.

And the USA has chosen to follow through by stepping up and challenging the inclusion of a reference to the preamble, saying it was attempting to operationalize something that by definition wasn’t operational.



The Human rights obligation enshrined in the Paris Agreement (PDF) Preamble reads as follows:

Acknowledging that climate change is a common concern of humankind, Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity.

Read the Award commendation:

United States

Introductions can be kind of important, don’t you think?

We use them to connect to people in a “hi, how are you,” way or in, say, documents to give a sneak peek at what the text has in store for the reader. Sometimes they are relevant in treaties ...

Wait, just sometimes? That can’t be right.

Today’s fossil goes to the US for rejecting inclusion of human rights and other elements of the preamble of the Paris Agreement in the Paris Rulebook.

Yesterday, in the APA discussion on agenda item 3, the US challenged the inclusion of a reference to the preamble, saying it was attempting to operationalize something that by definition wasn’t operational. We’re not the only ones perplexed by this, right?

Parties should know that preambles and the important framing words they contain are integral to treaties. This one in particular happens to house the agreement that Parties will respect, promote, and consider human rights.

The US legal gymnastics to exclude the preamble suggests a hidden intention: further sidelining human rights from climate action. But every country at COP has existing human rights obligations, so the Preamble isn’t new or additional. And all 184 Parties to the Paris Agreement should respect, promote, and consider rights obligations in climate action.


This argument, coming from the US on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is especially ironic.

In case the US delegation here has forgotten, it was the United States and Eleanor Roosevelt who fought for the Declaration in 1948. Oh, how far the United States has fallen: from once being on the frontlines of the Human Rights movement, to now arguing that they should be excluded from the rules guiding implementation of the Paris Agreement.

What would Eleanor say?



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