Declaration of human rights added to discussions at UN Climate Change Conference

Environmental studies' S. Ravi Rajan helped draft human rights resolution

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As world leaders gather this week in Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, a group of environmental and legal scholars including S. Ravi Rajan of UC Santa Cruz has drafted a resolution stating human rights must be more explicitly acknowledged during climate discussions.

“We believe climate discourse has by and large ignored human rights dimensions,” said Rajan, associate professor of environmental studies, and a member of a committee from the Global Network for the Study of Environmental Human Rights that has drafted a joint Declaration on Human Rights and Climate Change.

This is the first time in the climate change debate that human rights, and the duties of states and companies will become part of the discussion, Rajan said. The draft declaration is now a formal document in the mix at Paris, he said.

Though previously ignored or overlooked, “human rights dimensions are obviously ever present,” Rajan said. “We therefore attempted to contribute to addressing this gap by explicitly drafting a framework that can be used to address this important issue.” Rajan is also a co-author of a longer paper that further builds on the issue.  

Rajan, former provost at College Eight, joined UC Santa Cruz in 1997 and also serves on the board of Greenpeace International. His research addresses three broad themes: environmentally inclusive governance with a focus on the relationship between the environment and human rights, and on the environmental basis of poverty.