UN: Climate Inaction Violates Human Rights

Essay by Eric Worrall

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has ruled in favour of eight Torres Strait Islanders, who claim Australia’s climate inaction violated their human rights.

Australia violated Torres Strait Islanders’ rights to enjoy culture and family life, UN Committee finds

23 September 2022

GENEVA (23 September 2022) – In a ground-breaking decision, the U.N. Human Rights Committee has found that Australia’s failure to adequately protect indigenous Torres Islanders against adverse impacts of climate change violated their rights to enjoy their culture and be free from arbitrary interferences with their private life, family and home.

The Committee today issued its Decision after examining a joint complaint filed by eight Australian nationals and six of their children. They are all indigenous inhabitants of Boigu, Poruma, Warraber and Masig, four small, low-lying islands in Australia’s Torres Strait region. The Islanders claimed their rights had been violated as Australia failed to adapt to climate change by, inter alia, upgrading seawalls on the islands and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“This decision marks a significant development as the Committee has created a pathway for individuals to assert claims where national systems have failed to take appropriate measures to protect those most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change on the enjoyment of their human rights,” Committee member Hélène Tigroudja said.

In their complaint brought to the Committee, the Islanders claimed that changes in weather patterns have direct harmful consequences on their livelihood, their culture and traditional way of life. The Islanders indicated that severe flooding caused by the tidal surge in recent years has destroyed family graves and left human remains scattered across their islands. They argued that maintaining ancestral graveyards and visiting and communicating with deceased relatives are at the heart of their cultures. In addition, the most important ceremonies, such as coming-of-age and initiation ceremonies, are only culturally meaningful if performed in the community’s native lands.

The Islanders also argued that changes in climate with heavy rainfall and storms have degraded the land and trees and have consequently reduced the amount of food available from traditional fishing and farming. On Masig Island, for example, the rising sea level has caused saltwater to seep into the soil and coconut trees to become diseased, subsequently killing off the fruit, and its coconut water, which are part of the Islanders’ traditional diet.

The Committee took into account the Islanders’ close, spiritual connection with their traditional lands, and the dependence of their cultural integrity on the health of their surrounding ecosystems. It therefore found that Australia’s failure to take timely and adequate measures to protect the indigenous Islanders against adverse climate change impacts led to the violation of their rights to enjoy their own culture and to be free from arbitrary interferences with their private life, family and home.

“States that fail to protect individuals under their jurisdiction from the adverse effects of climate change may be violating their human rights under international law,” Tigroudja added.

In the same decision, the Committee indicated that despite Australia’s series of actions, such as the construction of new seawalls on the four islands that are expected to be completed by 2023, additional timely and appropriate measures were required to avert a risk to the Islanders’ lives, since without robust national and international efforts, the effects of climate change may expose individuals to a violation of their right to life under the Covenant.

As remedies, the Committee asked Australia to compensate the indigenous Islanders for the harm suffered, engage in meaningful consultations with their communities to assess their needs, and take measures to continue to secure the communities’ safe existence on their respective islands.

ENDS

Source: UN Press Release

In my opinion this action brings utter discredit to the United Nations Human Rights Commission – one of the few UN bodies I hoped might sometimes still contribute to human wellbeing.

The islands named in the action are impermanent mud and coral cays. Boigu Island is made of sand and mud, Poruma, Warraber and Masig are made of coral.

The Torres Strait, where the islanders live, is subject to some of the most ferocious weather on the planet.

In 1899, 123 years ago, the islands were smashed by Cyclone Mahina. This cyclone was claimed to have caused a storm surge 13m / 42ft, at least 14ft higher than Hurricane Katrina, with a central pressure claimed to be as low as 880HPa, and as at the time of writing of the report in 2019, was still claimed to hold the record for the largest storm surge ever recorded from a typhoon, cyclone or hurricane.

There is nothing permanent about the structure of such loose sand or coral aggregate islands, they change shape every storm. The region where the islands are located is lashed by ferocious storms and cyclones pretty much every year. Such storms have been recorded since the late 1800s (Cyclone Mahina), and have likely occurred since the Torres Strait formed 12,000 years ago, when rising sea levels during the early Holocene drowned the land bridge between New Guinea and Australia.

To suggest that Australia’s 1% annual contribution to global CO2 rise has somehow caused the changes to island geography locals are experiencing, which the UNHRC ruled were Australia’s fault, in my opinion is an utter absurdity.

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Tom Halla
September 23, 2022 6:18 pm

If anyone, they should sue the Chinese. Lotsa luck on collecting.

Iain Russell
Reply to  Tom Halla
September 23, 2022 6:25 pm

Beat me to it. China, India and Indonesia. Are these the same Cli Scis who told us The Maldives would be under the waves in 2019?

Not Dan
Reply to  Tom Halla
September 24, 2022 2:22 pm

They are suing the Chinese…..indirectly through their Australian puppet government now in place. /s

Howard Dewhirst
September 23, 2022 6:29 pm

Does the UN committee not know Australia’s CO2 emissions are less than 500 million tons per annum and falling, while China’s are over 10,500 million tpa and increasing. Even if Australia’s CO2 contributes to climate change, removing Australia’s contribution would make no difference, unless they at the same time stopped buying consumer goods from China, most of which can only be made from crude oil?

Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  Howard Dewhirst
September 23, 2022 7:07 pm

Facts don’t matter.

Derg
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
September 23, 2022 7:16 pm

And sane people don’t care. We need more CO2 for the plants and trees.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
September 24, 2022 3:38 pm

To zealots and socialist meddlers. Should Australia take any of that seriously, you guys are doomed as a country.

Not Dan
Reply to  Howard Dewhirst
September 24, 2022 2:31 pm

The first thing the Australian government and people do is stop supply of goods and services to the Tiwi Islands.
A lot of fuel is burned in shipping to the Tiwis and they can return to their traditional and cultural ways of feeding themselves, erecting their palm leafed buildings etc.
They can become so self sufficient and serving that it will become a utopia for green holidays.

Of course you have to sail, paddle or swim to get there and enjoy your utopian view.

Reply to  Howard Dewhirst
September 25, 2022 1:31 am

Real Quantities of CO2 are far more important, if you want to convey a message to the public, rather than percentages, ppm etc. which may impress the already converted.

Paul Rossiter
September 23, 2022 6:31 pm

Simple fix, just send more money!

Peter K
Reply to  Paul Rossiter
September 24, 2022 12:35 am

And, of course, that will stop the islands from sinking.

rho
Reply to  Peter K
September 24, 2022 1:08 am

No, but Paul R is correct in identifying the goal of this particular exercise. That’s why they didn’t go after China or India – neither would waste so much as the breath to tell them ‘No’.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Peter K
September 24, 2022 11:12 am

I wonder if they ate all the trigger fish? The trigger fish eat the coral, poop out coral sand that then washes up on the beaches, and slowly makes the islands larger. If they reduce or eliminate the local population of trigger fish the island may slowly wash away.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Joe Crawford
September 24, 2022 3:41 pm

😢

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Dave Fair
September 25, 2022 9:39 am

Yep

September 23, 2022 6:33 pm

I wonder if the Australian Government actually wanted to defend themselves at all. Did they want this complaint to succeed? Looks like it.

ozspeaksup
Reply to  Karim Ghantous
September 24, 2022 3:44 am

it will with this parlous mob in power

harry
September 23, 2022 7:06 pm

The Australian government should start their response to climate change by confiscating their petrol powered boats.

Last edited 10 days ago by harry
Herbert
September 23, 2022 7:11 pm

For those who do not wish to read this nonsensical Decision, Clause 2.9 is instructive-
“2.9.There are no available or effective domestic remedies to enforce their rights under articles 2,6,17,24 and 27 of the Covenant( to which Australia is a party).
The authors’ rights under the Covenant are not protected in the Constitution or any other legislation applicable to the Federal Government.
The High Court of Australia has ruled that State organs do not owe a duty of care for failing to regulate environmental harm.( Graham Barclays Oysters v. Ryan [2002] HCA 54.”
So there being no domestic rights available to the Claimants the UNHCR kindly invents some for them!
One of the valid criticisms of the recently legislated Climate Change Act 2022 and Climate Change ( Consequential Amendments ) Act 2022 was that they would unleash a wave of lawfare actions. The Acts give lawful force to the Net Zero 2050 policy.
The UNHCR Decision is only a small foretaste of the “ unintended consequences” of this appalling legislative action.
Expect –
The Children, and the Children’s children v.Australia,
coming to a Court soon.

Tom Abbott
September 23, 2022 7:30 pm

Australians should tell the United Nations Human Rights Committee to go to hell.

Last edited 10 days ago by Tom Abbott
Birdynumnum
Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 23, 2022 7:40 pm

Or failing that seek out a reliable taxidermist.

alastair gray
Reply to  Birdynumnum
September 24, 2022 12:39 am

the UN are taxidermists they stuff any country that doesnt kow-tow to their nonsense , and of course paradoxically the planet too

Alba
Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 24, 2022 12:50 am

Once in hell they could sue the Devil for his neglect of the human rights of the inmates due to the extent of warming in his jurisdiction.

LdB
Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 25, 2022 7:57 am

That is pretty much what the last government did for years .. yet to see if the new government has backbone with these pratts 🙂

Last edited 8 days ago by LdB
Graham
Reply to  Tom Abbott
September 25, 2022 10:20 pm

How long before the UN gets sued by starving countries for encouraging countries around the world to cut back on gas supply for manufacturing nitrogenous fertilizer.
The UN is pushing this climate change scam which if sanity does not prevail Billions of people around the world will die of starvation.
Nitrogenous fertilizer has been used to feed the world with increasing amounts applied every year in nearly every country since the 1970s.
Unless those in power change their attitude 4 billion people will start going hungry as there is no other way of growing massive amounts of food except nitrogen fertiliser.
This is a fact that that those in charge in the UN do not want to acknowledge .
I believe that drastic changes need to be made now to avert a world wide disaster.
When poor countries cannot afford to buy staple food at inflated prices rich countries will not be able to help out because the food shortage will be world wide .
Nitrogenous fertilizer has escalated in price by over 300% due to shortages and with furter restrictions on gas supplies it will only get dearer and scarcer .

Layor
September 23, 2022 7:47 pm

Mmmmm! I think there is a typo. Shouldn’t it be ‘climate action violates their rights?!’

eo
September 23, 2022 7:57 pm

It is an extortion. A good extortionist studies his potential victim. He does extort from the mafia or people with no money. People with guilty consciences especially the sins of their ancestors who were involved in colonialism, slavery and are easy targets for extortion and they are easy to identify by their woke attitude and a bag load of cash. Heard of any move fore reparation from current descendants of Genghis Khan, Timurlame or the Qings? When China, Mongolia, Uzbekistan starts to exhibit that woke remorse and the have the money to pay, then those countries will start to face lawsuits for reparations.

lee
September 23, 2022 8:05 pm

The Torres Strait population has increased by 400% since the 2001 census. Increased pressure on water, lowering water table and you get salt water intrusion.

https://abs.gov.au/census/find-census-data/quickstats/2021/LGA36960

You can get to the 2001 census from there.

Larry Hamlin
September 23, 2022 9:04 pm

This entire scheme is nothing but politically driven scientifically unsupported idiotic climate alarmist propaganda that no rational person could take seriously. What a complete fraud.

Mike Lowe
September 23, 2022 9:10 pm

I’d like to see those Islanders try to do what nobody has so far, and prove what they claim!

H.R.
Reply to  Mike Lowe
September 23, 2022 9:21 pm

That’s why they went to the UN. They don’t have to prove their claim. Wailing loudly is sufficient.

LdB
Reply to  Mike Lowe
September 25, 2022 8:00 am

It’s being appealed to the High Court by Santos or a new eco-study whichever comes first they said.

Mike Maguire
September 23, 2022 9:24 pm

According to the United Nations in 1989, this island should have been “wiped off the face of the earth” a long time ago, along with similar flat island nations by “ocean levels rising up to 3 feet”.

U.N. Predicts Disaster if Global Warming Not Checked
 PETER JAMES SPIELMANN Associated Press June 29, 1989:

https://apnews.com/article/bd45c372caf118ec99964ea547880cd0

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.
Coastal flooding and crop failures would create an exodus of ″eco- refugees,′ ′ threatening political chaos, said Noel Brown, director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program, or UNEP.
He said governments have a 10-year window of opportunity to solve the greenhouse effect before it goes beyond human control.
As the warming melts polar icecaps, ocean levels will rise by up to three feet, enough to cover the Maldives and other flat island nations, Brown told The Associated Press in an interview on Wednesday.
Coastal regions will be inundated; one-sixth of Bangladesh could be flooded, displacing a fourth of its 90 million people. A fifth of Egypt’s arable land in the Nile Delta would be flooded, cutting off its food supply, according to a joint UNEP and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study.
″Ecological refugees will become a major concern”
++++++++++++++++

They are completely ignoring the much, MUCH better than expected outcome. They should be extremely grateful that the actual predicted crisis is still a very long way off and that Australia is building flood walls well before anything close to the busted predictions happen.

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/torres-strait-islanders-plead-for-climate-action-as-government-builds-seawall-20220401-p5aa13.html

“The new Boigu seawall is a practical response delivered by all levels of government working together to address the effects of climate change and the threat of inundation for our Torres Strait communities,” Mr Wyatt said.
The federal and Queensland governments, along with the Torres Strait Island Regional Council, are rolling out a $40 million coastal protection infrastructure program across five islands under Australia’s National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy.”

ozspeaksup
Reply to  Mike Maguire
September 24, 2022 3:46 am

divide 40mil by 8
go to hell

Dave Fair
Reply to  Mike Maguire
September 24, 2022 3:51 pm

A question for you Aussies out there: Is A$40 million enough to pay sufficient graft to the local Big Men, much less build seawalls?

b.nice
September 23, 2022 10:42 pm

Torres Strait islands get all their electricity from DIESEL generators. (through Ergon Energy)

and has for many years.

https://www.ergon.com.au/network/network-management/network-infrastructure/isolated-and-remote-power-stations

Since this releases a lot of local CO2, it is obviously the first thing that needs to be stopped..

BobM
Reply to  b.nice
September 24, 2022 4:31 am

Since most of Australia is a CO2 sink, these island folks, using diesel for energy, may have higher per capita CO2 emissions than the average Austalian.

Philip CM
September 23, 2022 11:16 pm

Australia controls weather patterns… who’d a thunk it!

H.R.
Reply to  Philip CM
September 24, 2022 5:42 am

Cut it out, Australia!

Quit fiddling with the World’s thermostat.
😉

Fraizer
Reply to  H.R.
September 24, 2022 8:56 am

Who touched the thermostat?
https://youtu.be/1Pwwx1cF8NQ

saveenergy
September 23, 2022 11:30 pm

They should be allowed to
enjoy their own culture and to be free from arbitrary interferences with their private life, family and home“.

Therefore, all ‘modern’ contrivances should be removed from the islands, everything that has been touched by fossil fuels … TV, phones, outboard motors, fridges, health care, everything containing metal, glass & plastic …
let them live like their ancestors !!

a happy little debunker
September 24, 2022 12:05 am

In a 2020 deep dive into Australia’s emission’s during 2015 (an El-Niño year of low growth, hot air and rampant bushfires) found that Australia absorbed more CO2 than Australia emitted and Australian’s had emitted by way of fossil fuels.
Proving that Australia itself has always been a CO2 sink.
This UN decision ignores that Australia (as a nation) has not contributed to increased world wide CO2 emissions and therefore could not be responsible for any hardship suffered by Torres Strait Islanders.

H.R.
Reply to  a happy little debunker
September 24, 2022 5:47 am

You’ve heard of BLM? Well, the UN believes in FDM. Facts Don’t Matter.

ghl
Reply to  a happy little debunker
September 24, 2022 10:36 pm

Confirmed by both Japanese and American satellites.

Philip Mulholland
September 24, 2022 12:44 am

UN: Climate InAction Violates Human Rights

Serge Wright
September 24, 2022 1:18 am

When I read this report yesterday, I was similarly shocked. The UN is now officially off the leash and using these people to peddle their corrupt Marxist agenda. If human caused AGW was the real cause, then the UN would be focusing on China, the biggest emitter, but you can be sure they don’t get a mention here. It’s now time that member states remove all funding to this corrupt organisation and pull out of all agreements and associations.

September 24, 2022 2:01 am

No country should allow this UN body to rule against it. If a country has signed a treaty to allow this to happen it should withdraw from the treaty.

The UN should be like a club, you pay to get benefits of club membership, if you break the rules you lose membership or pay a fine. It is vital to stop the UN from becoming a World Govt.

ozspeaksup
September 24, 2022 3:42 am

the UN is as much farce as WHO and CDC and worldbank shut the damned lot down and start again.
these whinging “natives” can stfu as can UN seawalls costs alone insane and they could start burying or moving to the other end away from wave action of they really cared
8 people? get stuffed we bother in any way at all

Greytide
September 24, 2022 4:38 am

Firstly, they should have to PROVE, scientifically, that CO2 causes significant warming and PROVE that climate change is not just part of the natural cycle. I have yet to see any proof. Consensus and conjecture are not proof

Dave Fair
Reply to  Greytide
September 24, 2022 4:03 pm

We have consulted with our computer Gods and they assure us that they, themselves, are sufficient proof. We also have additional lines of evidence supporting the Gods’ proof, but we misplaced them. We are sure they will resurface soon.

Don’t risk becoming canceled as a heretical denier, o-you of little faith.

pochas94
September 24, 2022 6:53 am

Human Rights? Yeah, right!

Editor
September 24, 2022 8:33 am

These U.N. Committees operate in an insanely isolated bubble of One World Goverment far-left progressive-ism, entirely cut-off from the reality of the lives of real persons.

Decisions like the one above are exemplars as to why all sensible people should beware of the rising power and authority of these out-of-touch bureaucrats.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Kip Hansen
September 24, 2022 4:04 pm

Kinda sounds like Washington DC.

Andy Pattullo
September 24, 2022 9:34 am

The UN’s continued pursuit of irrelevance is making excellent progress. Once you leave reality and enter the virtual world of climatism the end is not far off. I’ll chill a nice bottle of bubbly to be ready to toast on the day when the UN becomes a historical footnote and a seldom repeated funny story about delusional self importance.

RickWill
September 24, 2022 4:04 pm

Melbournians spent 246 days under house arrest.

All Victorians who resisted vaccinations were removed from society. They could not work or enter any premises to participate in social activities.

These were real breaches of human rights under the UN charter.

The single constant with climate and shorelines is change. Northern Australia is a subduction zone. Sea level rise around the northern coastline is significant as the land dives deeper.

Quilter52
September 26, 2022 6:23 am

I noticed they want compensation. Funny that, since most of those living on islands in the Torres strait live almost entirely off the Australian taxpayer. I think they get enough compensation already.

Peter
September 27, 2022 3:33 pm

Australian research published in 2016 showed falling sea levels in the Australian north. It’s significant. All marine maps in Australian, including Torres Straight, had to be redrawn.
The cause has nothing to do with climate change. Australia, with PNG, sit on the fastest moving tectonic plate in the world, moving north. We are literally running over Indonesia.

Sea level in the Torres Straight, is falling. That’s real world narritive. There is coral bleaching due to falling sea levels.

Unfortunately, the science does not fit the current narrative. Once the maps were redrawn, once the scientists were rewarded, the Experts went back to the falling sea level narritive.

As an aside, just west of Finchshafen in PNG, are these gigantic steps, formed as the mainland is being pushed up. I’m talking 100 m for each step. Each was a coral reef.

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