Sabin Center’s Network of Peer Reviewers Responds to African Commission’s Call for Comments on Climate Change and Human Rights

Last week, the Sabin Center’s Peer Reviewer Network provided a detailed comment in response to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ Call for Comments on the draft study concerning the impact of climate change on human rights in Africa. The comment offers recommendations to strengthen the draft study’s approach to the human rights implications of climate change and addresses key areas of climate change law. The authors of this report are a varied group of experts in climate change litigation, with peer reviewers hailing from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and North America. This reflects a broad range of perspectives and knowledge in the field of climate change law.

The draft study by the African Commission delves into the myriad ways climate change adversely impacts human rights in the African continent, with a focus on vulnerable groups, including women, children, Indigenous peoples, and people with disabilities. The Sabin Center’s commentary, led by Maria Antonia Tigre, Maria Jose Alarcon, and Antoine De Spiegeleir, offers insights to refine and deepen the study’s analysis.

Highlighted areas in the commentary include:

  • Enhanced Focus on Vulnerable Groups: The comment emphasized the need for a nuanced examination of how climate change exacerbates existing vulnerabilities, particularly among women, children, Indigenous peoples, and other marginalized groups. It advocates for incorporating intersectionality into the study to better understand these compounded impacts.
  • Environmental Democracy and Rule of Law: The comment emphasized the importance of transparency, citizen participation, and accountability in climate policies and suggested including guidelines to ensure these policies respect human rights.
  • Protection of Environmental and Human Rights Defenders: The comment recommended acknowledging and safeguarding the roles of individuals and groups defending environmental and human rights, especially in the context of climate change.
  • State Responsibility and Legal Obligations: The comment noted a gap in the draft study regarding the consequences for States that fail to meet their international legal obligations related to human rights and climate change. It suggests outlining the principles of State responsibility to reinforce the legal framework.

This comment underscored the importance of integrating human rights perspectives into climate change discussions and policies, particularly in the African context. Read the comment here.


Global Climate Litigation Fellow at Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School | Website

Dr. Maria Antonia Tigre is the Global Climate Litigation Fellow at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School.

Maria José Alarcon
Rapporteur for Central American & the Andean Court of Justice Court of Justice at Sabin Center for Climate Change Law

Maria José Alarcon is the Sabin Center's rapporteur for Central American & the Andean Court of Justice Court of Justice.