A human rights based approach to climate change adaptation in the AU
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It is evident that climate change will not just have detrimental effects on millions of people of the world, but that these impacts will also have a substantial influence on the realisation and recognition of these individuals’ human rights. The recognition of a climate-type right or a right to a certain environmental quality is a prerequisite for the fulfilment of international fundamental guaranteed human rights and freedoms. Communities devastated by the impacts of climate change are progressively centring their claims for environmental justice on the basis of the protection of human rights. With at least 147 national constitutions recognising environmental rights and responsibilities, it is clear that human rights law plays a vital role in the fight for environmental justice. The particular language of human rights proposes in theory that human rights surpass any other considerations and that they are by their very nature inalienable, permanent, and fundamental rights. The unambiguous acknowledgement through the international climate change negotiations that the African region is particularly vulnerable to the effect of climate change has created a mandate for the African Union to introduce a climate change-type right. Accordingly, the African Common Position on Climate Change recognised the importance of regional cooperation among member States regarding the development of coordinated law and policy in regions of common interest. The author is of the opinion that a regional approach towards recognising a human right to climate change adaptation is ultimately vital to the advancement of sustainable development in the African region. It is concluded that the African Union response to climate change adaptation should be structured around a coordinated legal response based on the cooperation of African Union member states.
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