Engaging in climate litigation experiences from national human rights institutions


The escalating evidence of climate change’s profound impact on fundamental human rights, including the right to life, liberty, civil, political, social, economic, and cultural rights, underscores the urgency of addressing this global challenge. In the eyes of human rights organizations worldwide, climate change is no longer a debatable concern but a pressing human rights issue that demands immediate attention.

Recognizing this emerging challenge, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) have acknowledged the imperative to enhance their professional capacities, aiming for a more effective protection of human rights in their respective nations. Traditionally, environmental law or data related to climate change’s impact did not form a standard part of NHRIs’ professional portfolio. However, in the face of an evolving world, these have become increasingly pertinent.

In a bid to augment the expertise of NHRIs and bolster their capacity to enforce climate justice within their jurisdictions, the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) Caucus on Human Rights and Climate Change has initiated a peer-learning programme. This programme focuses on climate litigation, aiming to expand the skillsets of NHRIs already versed in leveraging existing legal mechanisms.

Strategic litigation tools such as Third Party Interventions play a critical role in this context. These interventions provide a platform for the Court to gain insights from States and entities that aren’t directly involved in a case, offering perspectives and arguments that differ from or supplement those put forth by the parties involved. This approach is widely accepted across most domestic legal systems, regional courts like the European and Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and UN treaty bodies.
Moreover, the NHRIs’ mandate offers another unique approach: conducting a national inquiry which combines monitoring, data collection, investigation with public hearings and legal analysis. National inquiry might even reach beyond the national framework and respond to the cross-boundary factor of climate change impact.

Through our peer-learning programme, we aspire to foster meaningful dialogue and collaboration among NHRIs, aiding them in discovering innovative ways to advocate for climate justice.