Friday’s appointment of a UN expert on climate change, human rights and human rights was the first by the top U.N. rights body. This is expected to encourage environmental defenders as well as provide more support for victims affected by extreme weather.
In October, the Geneva-based Human Rights Council created the new Special Rapporteur position. This was at the same moment that the body recognized access to a clean environment as a fundamental human right. Ian Fry, who is both Australian and Tuvaluan, will be the first to hold this position. He has worked for least-developed countries, including at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference where he helped to ensure that human rights were included in the final package.
The tiny, low-lying Pacific country of Tuvalu has been a prominent voice in drawing attention to the fight against rising sea levels. The foreign minister of Tuvalu was knee-deep in water when he addressed the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow last year. The new independent expert was mandated to “study and determine how adverse effects of climate changes, including sudden or slow onset catastrophes, affect the full enjoyment of human rights, and make recommendations on how to mitigate and prevent these adverse consequences.”
Fry wrote a letter explaining why he sought the post. He also stressed the need to take immediate action to assist those who are forced to leave by extreme weather. Fry witnessed this firsthand in 2015 after Cyclone Pam in Tuvalu. He wrote that he believes climate change has made displacement one of the most serious human rights threats facing the international family.
U.N. documents show that Fry was one of 26 applicants for the position. The appointment is for three year.
(This story is not edited by Devdiscourse staff.