Stirling experts advise on landmark human rights petition

Commission On Human Rights
24 May 2017

Two University of Stirling academics, Dr Annalisa Savaresi and Dr Ioana Cismas, have provided expert legal advice in relation to a landmark petition before the Philippines Human Rights Commission.

A group of applicants has asked the Commission to consider whether the impacts associated with climate change, caused by the world’s largest oil, coal, cement and mining companies, have violated the human rights of millions of people living in the Philippines.

Forty-seven major carbon emitters, including Shell, BP and Chevron, are implicated in the petition and accused of breaching the fundamental rights to life, health, food, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and self-determination.

Human rights violations

While many respondents have questioned the Commission’s jurisdiction to investigate the petition, in a brief submitted on behalf of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), experts argue that it does have the authority to consider corporate human rights violations associated with the impacts of climate change.

The amicus curiae brief explains why the Philippines Human Rights Commission has jurisdiction to consider corporate human rights violations associated with the impacts of climate change, on the basis of both domestic and international law.

Pushing boundaries

Dr Savaresi of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, who coordinated the brief, said: “This petition is the first of its kind and raises momentous legal questions, whose answers are far from settled. Several lawmakers and courts around the world are likely to be faced with similar questions on climate change impacts and corporations’ responsibilities in the years to come.”

Dr Cismas added: “This is why the petition is so important: it draws on recent normative developments in respect to corporate obligations and the linkages between climate change and human rights violations to push the boundaries of established legal practice.”

The brief was prepared in collaboration with Dr Jacques Hartmann, University of Dundee, and with the assistance of APF Legal Intern Tim Tabuteau and APF Legal Counsel Jenni Whelan.

You can read the submitted brief.

Background information

Media enquiries to Corrie Campbell, Communications Officer, on 01786 466 169, or c.r.campbell@stir.ac.uk.

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