September 27, 2022
Cited article by Sophie McNeill, Human Rights Watch
HRRC applauds the United Nations Human Rights Committee ruling regarding climate change and its impact on civilians. Climate change is a critical and growing issue that needs to be addressed, and measures must be taken to protect cultures and communities at higher risk. This ruling presents an opportunity by reminding governments of their legal and moral obligations.
The UN Human Rights Committee found the Australian government has failed to protect the Indigenous Torres Strait Islanders from the effects of climate change. The original complaint was filed against the Australian government by eight Australian nationals and their children, members of the Indigenous Torres Straight region, stating that the government had failed to ensure long-term habitability for the islands.
Ultimately, the committee found that the government, while constructing some sea walls on the islands, did not take sufficient measures or provide the islanders with ways to transmit their culture onto their children. The committee additionally ruled that the Australian government pay adequate compensation to the community as well as ensure a “continued safe existence” on the islands. This is a landmark ruling that warns governments around the globe that they must take steps to ensure the protection for citizens from the harms of climate change.