As COP 28 opens in Dubai, NHRIs urge State Parties to place human rights at the center of actions to counter global climate crisis

Geneva, Dubai, 30 November 2023 – With the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) starting in Dubai today, GANHRI – representing 120 national human rights institutions (NHRIs) across all regions – has urged leaders to take decisive, human rights-centered decisions and action to counter the “unparalleled human rights repercussions of climate change”. 

In an open letter released today, GANHRI calls on State parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement to be “guided by their human rights obligations” during the upcoming negotiations.  

With 2023 marking the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, GANHRI said states must “consider the impact of climate change on groups with particular vulnerability” when making commitments during COP28, and in all climate-related decision making. 

The open letter notes that climate change disproportionately impacts women, girls, youth, indigenous peoples, minorities, migrants, environmental human rights defenders, older persons and persons with disabilities, among others.  

GANHRI stresses the urgent need for States to phase out of fossil fuels and calls for “a just, sustainable and equitable transition towards low-carbon societies that support poverty eradication, with the active participation of groups and communities most impacted by climate change”. 

In the open letter, GANHRI strongly encourages a human rights-based approach to mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage, supported by sufficient financial resources, to meet the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement. 

More specifically, GANHRI urges bold decision-making at COP28 towards the following outcomes: 

  1. An increase in mitigation commitments to meet the 1.5C target under the Paris Agreement 
  2. An ambitious conclusion to the Global Stocktake that respects, protects and promotes human rights 
  3. Human rights-based action to address adaptation needs 
  4. An effective, well-resourced and human rights-compliant Loss and Damage Framework 
  5. Consideration of the impact of business on climate change and human rights 
  6. Ensuring meaningful participation and the Protection of Civic Space 

In the open letter, GANHRI and NHRIs reaffirm their willingness to “work with State parties, affected communities, civil society and other stakeholders at the country level to ensure effective human rights-based action on climate change.” 

“We stand ready to help transform human rights-based commitments made at COP28 into action on the ground. 

GANHRI is committed to supporting NHRI work on climate change and has recently gained observer status at the international climate negotiations. 

GANHRI will actively engage in the 28th Conference of the Parties of the UN Convention on Climate Change, while also coordinating the attendance and active participation of NHRIs across the globe during COP28. 

Under the framework of COP28, on 5th December GANHRI will host a NHRI Symposium in hybrid format (in Dubai and online) to showcase and collectively discuss key aspects of the work of NHRIs on climate change, as well as identify ways of supporting ongoing and future work in this area. 

The event is co-funded by the EU with the support of UNEP and NHRI of the United Arab Emirates.