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Extraterritorial Obligations in a Warming World: An International Human Rights Perspective on Climate Change in Maldives

Tolonen, Robert (2009)
Department of Law
Abstract
With the scientific evidence for extensive anthropogenic climate change continuously growing stronger, the human dimension of its projected impacts is getting more and more attention. The perhaps clearest example of this is the growing interest in human rights aspects of climate change. Within the United Nations, Maldives - a small island developing country in the Indian Ocean and home to 386,000 people - has been in the vanguard of a movement calling for a human rights-based approach to climate change. Maldives is one of the countries of the world which is most vulnerable to the predicted impacts of global warming on the climate system, particularly sea-level rise. The Maldivian islands are small and low-lying, making retreat inland or to... (More)
With the scientific evidence for extensive anthropogenic climate change continuously growing stronger, the human dimension of its projected impacts is getting more and more attention. The perhaps clearest example of this is the growing interest in human rights aspects of climate change. Within the United Nations, Maldives - a small island developing country in the Indian Ocean and home to 386,000 people - has been in the vanguard of a movement calling for a human rights-based approach to climate change. Maldives is one of the countries of the world which is most vulnerable to the predicted impacts of global warming on the climate system, particularly sea-level rise. The Maldivian islands are small and low-lying, making retreat inland or to higher ground impossible in cases of sea surges or other extreme weather events. As 80 percent of the land area of Maldives is less than one meter above mean sea level, already the predicted and seemingly unavoidable sea-level rise of between 0.2 and 0.6 m in this decade presents a serious threat to life on Maldives. Adding to this threat is the problem of increasing coral bleaching, loss of marine biodiversity, escalating beach erosion, and increasing frequency of flooding. With the help of a human rights-based approach, Maldives hopes that the international community will succeed in striking an equitable new global deal on climate change that takes fully into account its particular situation. The question is what relevance international human rights law has at the table of negotiations, as States' human rights obligations are understood as principally domestic. In contrast to a State's obligations towards people on its territory, the nature and content of States' extraterritorial obligations for human rights are vague and controversial. With the particular vulnerability of Maldives as a backdrop, this thesis explores possible intersections between the guiding principles of the international regulation of climate change and extraterritorial obligations for human rights. It draws the conclusion that some aspects of the extraterritorial human rights obligations of rich countries and the specific obligations of the 'most developed' countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change are mutually reinforcing. For this reason, just as the human dimension of projected climate change impacts should be regarded as a crucial human rights concern, so should the demands of human rights, and especially States' extraterritorial obligations for human rights, be regarded as a crucial component of a new global deal on climate change. (Less)
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author
Tolonen, Robert
supervisor
organization
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Folkrätt
language
English
id
1562630
date added to LUP
2010-03-08 15:55:30
date last changed
2010-03-08 15:55:30
@misc{1562630,
  abstract     = {With the scientific evidence for extensive anthropogenic climate change continuously growing stronger, the human dimension of its projected impacts is getting more and more attention. The perhaps clearest example of this is the growing interest in human rights aspects of climate change. Within the United Nations, Maldives - a small island developing country in the Indian Ocean and home to 386,000 people - has been in the vanguard of a movement calling for a human rights-based approach to climate change. Maldives is one of the countries of the world which is most vulnerable to the predicted impacts of global warming on the climate system, particularly sea-level rise. The Maldivian islands are small and low-lying, making retreat inland or to higher ground impossible in cases of sea surges or other extreme weather events. As 80 percent of the land area of Maldives is less than one meter above mean sea level, already the predicted and seemingly unavoidable sea-level rise of between 0.2 and 0.6 m in this decade presents a serious threat to life on Maldives. Adding to this threat is the problem of increasing coral bleaching, loss of marine biodiversity, escalating beach erosion, and increasing frequency of flooding. With the help of a human rights-based approach, Maldives hopes that the international community will succeed in striking an equitable new global deal on climate change that takes fully into account its particular situation. The question is what relevance international human rights law has at the table of negotiations, as States' human rights obligations are understood as principally domestic. In contrast to a State's obligations towards people on its territory, the nature and content of States' extraterritorial obligations for human rights are vague and controversial. With the particular vulnerability of Maldives as a backdrop, this thesis explores possible intersections between the guiding principles of the international regulation of climate change and extraterritorial obligations for human rights. It draws the conclusion that some aspects of the extraterritorial human rights obligations of rich countries and the specific obligations of the 'most developed' countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change are mutually reinforcing. For this reason, just as the human dimension of projected climate change impacts should be regarded as a crucial human rights concern, so should the demands of human rights, and especially States' extraterritorial obligations for human rights, be regarded as a crucial component of a new global deal on climate change.},
  author       = {Tolonen, Robert},
  keyword      = {Folkrätt},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Extraterritorial Obligations in a Warming World: An International Human Rights Perspective on Climate Change in Maldives},
  year         = {2009},
}