Litigating Climate Change before the Committee on the Rights of the Child in Sacchi v Argentina et al.: Breaking New Ground?
Forthcoming in Nordic Journal of Human Rights
34 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2022
Date Written: November 25, 2022
In September 2019, sixteen children petitioned against Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey before the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in what would come to be known as the Sacchi case. The children requested for the UNCRC to find that climate change is a children’s rights crisis, that these States have caused and perpetuated the climate crisis by knowingly disregarding scientific evidence and that in so doing, they had violated the children’s human rights. In October 2021, the UNCRC dismissed the petition upon the grounds that it was inadmissible, as the petitioners had failed to exhaust domestic remedies. The Sacchi case gave rise to new challenges with regards to the admissibility of the petition: beyond the exhaustion of domestic remedies, the UNCRC had to grapple with the issue of victimhood in the context of climate change and extraterritorial climate obligations conferred to States in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) declared the Sacchi decision a ‘historic ruling’. But did the UNCRC’s conclusions in Sacchi truly break new ground? This article explores this question by examining the three admissibility criteria in turn: extraterritorial jurisdiction, victimhood and the ex-haustion of domestic remedies.
Keywords: United Nations, human rights, treaty bodies, climate change, litigation, Committee on the Rights of the Child, Human Rights Committee, children’s rights
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