national determined contributions (NDCs).

Are Countries of the Asia Pacific Considering Human Rights When Combating Climate Change?

This baseline study finds that only a handful of countries in the Asia Pacific have included direct references to human rights in their Paris Agreement action plans to combat climate change, their so-called national determined contributions (NDCs).

Of the 32 countries analyzed, India, Indonesia, the Marshall Islands, Nepal, and the Philippines included a direct reference to human rights. However, the analysis shows that there are numerous indirect references to human rights in other NDCs.

The Raoul Wallenberg Institute and the Asia Centre of the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) conducted the study together. In it, the authors make recommendations for future research and capacity development interventions.


Top three issues to look into

  • To determine to what extent India, Indonesia, the Marshall Islands, Nepal, and the Philippines integrate the human rights highlighted in their NDCs, and identify ways to support them.
  • To make sense of the indirect references to human rights that other countries have in their NDC’s
  • To better understand the aims of the countries that have integrated human rights in their NDC’s. What do countries hope to achieve by this?


More in-depth on the study

A main point the Institute wants to stress – obvious but often overlooked – is that States Parties to the Paris Agreement also (to varying degrees) are Parties to legally binding Conventions on human rights. This means that State duties under these Conventions also apply to their climate response.

Human rights law and experts have a lot to say about the problems addressed in the Paris Agreement, and can be a useful resource to advise governments not only on how to comply with international obligations, but also on how to best protect their populations against the many risks that come with climate change.

RWI’s Affiliated Professor, Sumudu Atapattu led the research from the human rights perspective together with a team from SEI. Prof. Atapattu has been strongly engaged in RWI’s work in Asia since 2015, and has published widely on human rights and climate change, including specific analyses of the Paris Agreement.

RWI has organised regional courses and forums in Asia on the links between human rights and environment since 2015, building among other on the findings of the UN Special Procedure on the topic.

Swedish international development cooperation currently supports a regional RWI programme in Asia and the Pacific focusing specifically on these links. SEI is a key partner to RWI in the programme, as the Institute sees a strong potential of joining forces with environment experts and academics in addressing this field.

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