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U.S. Statement at the HRC 29 on Human Rights and Climate Change
July 2, 2015

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America the UN Human Rights Council

Human Rights and Climate Change
July 2, 2015

The United States thanks the Philippines and Bangladesh for their continued dedication to an issue of tremendous importance to all countries.  We recognize that climate change is an urgent, complex, and far-reaching global challenge.  Addressing climate change requires cooperation among all nations – for any effective solution to climate change depends upon all nations taking responsibility for their own actions and for our planet.  Furthermore, as we said about the Human Rights Council’s last resolution on this topic, we agree that the effects of climate change have a range of direct and indirect implications for the effective enjoyment of human rights.  On that basis, we are joining consensus on this resolution.

At the same time, this resolution raises some serious concerns for the United States.  We regret that the sponsors missed an opportunity to discuss climate change issues through a true human rights lens.  That means ensuring that States respect their human rights obligations to persons in their territories when they react to climate change.

Regarding the resolution’s reference to the right to development, the United States position on this issue is well known, and applies here.  Further, we understand the phrases used in this text to refer to many human rights as shorthand for the more accurate and widely accepted terms used in the applicable international covenants, and we maintain our longstanding positions on those rights.

Certain language in the resolution intrudes on expert climate negotiations taking place elsewhere.  This is beyond the competence and expertise of the Council, and is particularly inappropriate in light of the ongoing negotiations in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  For example, the resolution’s unnecessary and selective quotations from the UNFCCC, to which the United States is a party, and its Conference of Parties (COP) decisions, as well as its singling out of one bloc in the negotiations, raise concerns.  We understand the quotations from the UNFCCC and COP decisions as simply acknowledging that they contain the stated provisions.  The applicability of these quotations and concepts they describe are limited to the context of that carefully negotiated Convention.  Furthermore, to the extent that some might attempt to misuse the language in this resolution in the context of the UNFCCC or elsewhere, including to misinterpret carefully negotiated climate change decisions, we underscore that this resolution will in no way affect what has been decided in the context of the UNFCCC, nor prejudge ongoing negotiations in any way.

While we appreciate the tremendous work by the participants in the negotiation of this resolution, this text does not reflect the diverse views expressed in the negotiations.  We strongly urge that the Council’s future work on this topic be led by a cross-regional core group that includes representation of diverse perspectives.

The United States stands ready to continue working with others on this important issue.


The U.S. government has issued a supplementary statement addressing additional common concerns on this and other resolutions