ACRP6 - Human Rights Accountability of the EU and Austria for Climate policies in Third Countries and their possible Effects on Migration

  • Project no.250064
  • Duration 03/2014 - 07/2016

Measures to address climate change can result in human rights violations when the rights of affected populations are not taken into consideration. Climate change projects in so-called "developing" countries are often financed and/or also implemented by industrialised countries. The project focused on the accountability of the EU and its Member States with regard to negative impacts of climate change measures they are involved in on human rights in third countries.

The core of the research study were three case studies of projects in the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism. Previous research had concluded that many host countries do not thoroughly investigate projects and that stakeholder consultations are often deficient. These points are borne out by the cases analysed in the project, two hydro power projects in Barro Blanco, Panama, and Bujagali, Uganda, and one geothermal energy project in Olkaria, Kenya. All three cases involve conflicts around resettlement and the consequent impairment of livelihoods as well as deficiencies in stakeholder consultations and impact assessments.

The question of holding the European Union (EU) and its member states accountable for human rights violations in this context is a particularly challenging one. Although the case for extraterritorial human rights obligations in this context is very hard to make, they play an important role in determining the expected conduct by states. This concerns in particular the obligation to refrain from conduct, which impairs the enjoyment of human rights outside of their territory.

To prevent negative impacts in future projects, international climate mechanisms should require all projects to undergo a human rights impact assessment with clear procedural requirements for stakeholder consultations. Moreover, projects should be required to monitor socio-economic impacts throughout their lifetime. In addition, the climate regime should establish an institutional grievance mechanism at the international level as well as require the establishment of a project-level grievance mechanism in high-risk projects.

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