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U.S. Explanation of Position on HRC Climate Change Resolution
June 22, 2017


Explanation of Position by the United States of America

Human Rights Council, 35th Session

We thank the members of the core group for their continued dedication to an issue of importance to many countries.  Climate change is a complex global challenge.  As we said with respect to a prior Human Rights Council 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 highlight the need for States to promote and respect the human rights of persons on their territories when they take action to address climate change.  We also regret that the resolution fails to focus on the core mandate of the Council.

Regarding the resolution’s references to the Paris Agreement, the United States notes that President Trump announced on June 1 that the United States will withdraw from or renegotiate U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement or another international climate deal.

Certain language in the resolution goes beyond a human rights focus and intrudes on matters that are properly addressed in fora with specific expertise related to climate change, and the resolution takes out of context the resolutions and actions resulting from such negotiations.  This is particularly inappropriate in light of ongoing work in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  The resolution’s unnecessary and selective quotations from the UNFCCC, the Paris Agreement, and decisions of the Conference of the Parties (COP) cannot be understood to change or interpret the meaning or applicability of these instruments, nor can it prejudge ongoing or future negotiations in other fora in any way. Similarly, any calls for climate action in this resolution can only affirm actions that countries choose to take.

While the effects of climate and weather phenomena may be one factor, among others, that influences human movement, the resolution text ignores, to its detriment, additional factors.  The omission of reference to the important diversity of drivers of migration cannot be understood to suggest a broad, direct and singular path of causation between climate change and migration.

We understand the reference in OP10 to certain constituted bodies related to the UNFCCC to mean an invitation to the UNFCCC Secretariat, which may draw on relevant UNFCCC bodies as appropriate; these constituted bodies have no independent international standing and have limited mandates prescribed by UNFCCC Parties.

We understand the research the OHCHR is being requested to undertake pursuant to OP 12 to be related solely to addressing human rights protection gaps in the context of migration and displacement.  We do not see any role for OHCHR to research adaptation and mitigation plans or their related means of implementation.

Other concerns regarding this resolution will be addressed in the United States’ General Statement, which will be delivered at the end of Item 3.

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