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Climate-forced displacement

International Human Rights Commission to release findings of US tour of Indigenous communities impacted by climate change
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
In Alaska, rising seas have overwhelmed the land and reduced liveable spaces

In Alaska, rising seas have overwhelmed the land and reduced liveable spaces

Today (24 July), the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (REDESCA) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will release its human rights findings from its in-loco visit to the United States.

The rapporteur visited Alaska and Louisiana to meet Indigenous communities who filed a petition with the Commission on the human rights of Indigenous Tribes in the context of climate-forced displacement in the US in 2022.

The visit was the Commission’s first visit to the United States related to the issue of climate-forced displacement and the Commission’s first visit to the State of Alaska. 

Climate Emergency and Human Rights

An event taking place today will see the Special Rapporteur provide critical observations on the effects of climate change on Native American communities. 
 
A forum titled Climate Emergency and Human Rights in the Americas Forum will feature a panel discussion with a representative from REDESCA and four Indigenous tribal leaders from Louisiana and Alaska.

This forum is a high-level space to discuss the impacts of the climate emergency on human rights, as well as the work that REDESCA has developed in this regard.

The event will also discuss inter-American initiatives to address climate change and the various impacts for frontline communities, environmental racism and the inter-generational effects of climate change. 
 
Five tribal leaders will attend the forum to discuss their lived experiences and provide feedback on the policy recommendations offered by the Special Rapporteur: 
 
Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe; Chief Devon Parfait, Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi Chitimacha Choctaw; Chief Démé Naquin Jr, Jean Charles Choctaw Nation; Morris J. Alexie, Nunapitchuk and Stanilaus Tom, Newtok.
 
This event comes after a week-long visit to Louisiana and Alaska, made by the Special Rapporteur in late May 2023. 
 

‘This forum will not just impact Indigenous communities in Alaska and Louisiana, but Native communities across the continental United States.

‘The findings and policy recommendations proffered by the Special Rapporteur will have a multiplicative effect—their observations will be of use to communities and governments who have been addressing these issues for generations.’

SALOTE SOQO
Director of Advocacy, Global Displacement for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC)

Visits to Indigenous communities

The IACHR is the human rights arm of the Organization of American States (OAS), an international association of 35 independent nations in the Americas.

One of 13 rapporteurs, the Special Rapporteur for Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (REDESCA) promotes and protects the rights of communities in the Americas and plays a pivotal role in monitoring human rights violations in the Western hemisphere.

Soledad García Muñoz is the current Special Rapporteur holding the position. 
 
In May, Muñoz visited four coastal Louisiana Indigenous communities—the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi Chitimacha Choctaw Tribe, Atakapa Ishak Chawasha of Grand Bayou Village, the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe (PACIT) and the Jean Charles Choctaw Nation—and four coastal communities in Alaska—Kwigillingok, Newtok, Nunapitchuk and Kivalina.

Protecting rights of communities

The Alaska Institute for Justice (AIJ) is a nonprofit organisation dedicated to protecting the human rights of all Alaskans. Formerly known as the Alaska Immigration Justice Project, it transformed into the Alaska Institute for Justice to reflect the inclusion of the Research and Policy Institute – an additional programme dedicated to climate and social justice issues.
 
The Lowlander Center supports Louisiana’s lowland communities and places, both inland and coastal, for the benefit of both people and environment.
 
EarthRights International is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation that combines the power of law with the power of people in defence of human rights and the environment, which they define as ‘earth rights’. It takes legal action against perpetrators of Earth rights abuses, trains activists and works with communities to demand meaningful and lasting change.
 
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is a human rights and solidarity organisation founded as a rescue mission in 1940 during the Holocaust.

Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and with a membership of more than 35,000 supporters across the United States, UUSC’s programs focus on the issues of climate and disaster justice, migration justice and international justice and accountability.

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