Integrating Human Rights in the Paris Climate Architecture: Contest, Context, and Consequence
In the wake of the disappointing outcome of COP 24/CMA 3.1 in relation to human rights, this article asks whether the Paris Agreement’s preambular recital on human rights is the outer limit of what the regime can countenance, as the text appears to suggest, or whether it is a hook for the gradual mainstreaming and expansion of human rights protections in the climate regime, as many human rights advocates hope. To address this question, the article explores the contest over the manner and extent to which human rights law applies in the climate change regime, as well as the context in which it is set in relation to the evolution of the climate regime from a prescriptive to a facilitative regime. The article concludes that procedural rights and commitments, which leave considerable discretion to states in relation to outcomes, slot neatly into the Paris Agreement’s architecture, and will likely be progressively mainstreamed and expanded. However, a significant expansion of substantive human rights protections in the climate regime will need to await its moment.