The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Phone,+1 617 482 1211 (Toll-free 1-800-77-OXFAM),Email,

Climate Change Undermining Human Rights on an Unprecedented Scale

Verdict Delivered At World’s First International Climate Hearing


Archbishop Desmond Tutu
and Mary Robinson, former UN Commissioner for Human Rights, delivered a
global verdict on the human cost of climate change today.

The judgment was passed at the world's first international climate
hearing, hosted by Oxfam International during Humanitarian Day at the
Copenhagen Climate Summit. It was later passed to UNFCCC Executive
Secretary Yvo de Boer, to ensure its delivery to the 192 countries
currently negotiating the climate deal.

Joined by climate-affected people from Bangladesh, Peru, Uganda and
the USA, Robinson announced that climate change was "undermining human
rights on an unprecedented scale."

"International human rights law says that 'in no case may a people
be deprived of its means of subsistence'. Yet because of excessive
carbon emissions, produced primarily by industrialised countries, millions of the world's poorest people's rights are being violated every day. This is a deep and global injustice," said Robinson.

Over 1.5 million people have testified

Archbishop Desmond Tutu drew on his own experience of climate change
and called on world leaders not to let the voices of the most
vulnerable fall on deaf ears:

"I too, stand before you as a witness. I have seen with my own eyes
the changes in my homeland, South Africa. The Southern Cape is
currently experiencing the worst drought anyone can remember. There is
not enough food. There is too little water. The situation is becoming
increasingly desperate."

"This is our only chance to succeed in the word's most important
battle. I trust that those with the power to influence will have truly
listened today. Justice cannot wait," said Tutu.

The international climate hearing was the culmination of thousands
of Oxfam-supported hearings carried out in 35 countries this year. Over
one and a half million people joined the hearings to testify that
climate change is destroying their lives and livelihoods.

"Rich nations must compensate us"

Constance Okollet, a farmer for Uganda said: "Violent floods and
long droughts have caused hunger, death and homelessness in my village.
As farmers we used to be able to rely on the seasons, but now we don't
know when to plant, cultivate or sow. At first I thought god must be
punishing us. Then I realized this was man made. Rich nations must
compensate us for the damage they have done."

With just four days until the summit closes and still no money on
the table for long-term support to poor nations, the climate hearing
provided a stark reminder of the human cost of further delay.

"Climate change is affecting every issue linked to poverty today.
From death to hunger, disasters to displacement, the cost of delay is
criminal," said Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam
International. "We've been waiting two years for this critical deal.
With just four days to go, it's time for governments to stop
sidestepping their responsibilities and do the deal that's needed for
all of us."

Read more

Photos of the witnesses of the International Climate Hearing

Read about other climate hearings hosted by Oxfam

Blog- International climate hearing: "1.5 million people. act now save lives"

Seven questions - and seven answers - on climate change and Copenhagen

Act now

Join our petition to help stop climate change.

Oxfam International is a global movement of people who are fighting inequality to end poverty and injustice. We are working across regions in about 70 countries, with thousands of partners, and allies, supporting communities to build better lives for themselves, grow resilience and protect lives and livelihoods also in times of crisis.