Australia climate change inaction violated islanders’ rights: UN

Australia violated the human rights of a group of islanders off its north coast by failing to adequately protect them from the effects of climate change, a United Nations

committee has found. The complaint, filed more than three years ago by eight Torres Strait Islanders and their children, is one of a growing body of climate cases being

brought around the world on human rights grounds, and the ruling is expected to embolden others. Rising sea levels have already damaged food sources and ancestral burial

sites, scattering human remains, the islanders argued, saying their homes are at risk of being submerged. The committee said Australia violated two of the three human

rights set out in a UN Treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), pertaining to culture and family life, but not article 6 on the right to life,

media reports on Friday revealed. It called for Australia to provide the islanders with an effective remedy. “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,” UN committee member Hélène Tigroudja said. A spokesperson for Australia’s energy and climate change

ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. No enforcement mechanism Torres Strait Islanders are part of Australia’s Indigenous population, along with

Aboriginal people, who live on small clusters of low-lying islands dotted between Australia and Papua New Guinea.