Climate change ‘dystopian future already here’, says UN rights chief

Furniture piled up on a sofa in a flooded house in Larissa, central Greece on September 11, 2023.

Furnishings piled up on a settee in a flooded home in Larissa, central Greece on September 11, 2023.
| Picture Credit score: AFP

Local weather change is sparking human rights emergencies in quite a few international locations, the UN rights chief mentioned on Monday, stressing the necessity to battle the impunity of those that “plunder our surroundings”.

Talking earlier than the United Nations Human Rights Council, Volker Turk pointed to latest examples of the “environmental horror that’s our international planetary disaster”.

He described visiting Basra, Iraq, the place date palms as soon as lined canals, however now “drought, searing warmth, excessive air pollution and fast-depleting provides of recent water are creating barren landscapes of rubble and dirt”.

“This spiralling injury is a human rights emergency for Iraq, and plenty of different international locations,” he mentioned in his tackle opening the 54th council session in Geneva.

“Local weather change is pushing tens of millions of individuals into famine. It’s destroying hopes, alternatives, properties and lives. In latest months, pressing warnings have develop into deadly realities many times all all over the world,” Mr. Turk mentioned.

“We don’t want extra warnings. The dystopian future is already right here. We’d like pressing motion now.”

Mr. Turk was talking after the G-20 on the weekend didn’t decide to a phase-out of fossil fuels, one thing he mentioned was desperately wanted.

At a time when the ravages of climate change are forcing an increasing number of folks to depart their properties, the UN Excessive Commissioner for Human Rights mentioned he was “shocked by the nonchalance” seen in direction of surging numbers of migrant deaths.

“It’s evident that much more migrants and refugees are dying, unnoticed,” he mentioned, pointing to the greater than “2,300 folks reported lifeless or lacking within the Mediterranean this yr, together with the lack of greater than 600 lives in a single shipwreck off Greece in June.”

He additionally highlighted migrant deaths within the English Channel, the Bay of Bengal, within the Caribbean, alongside the U.S.-Mexican border, and on the Saudi border, the place he mentioned his “workplace is in search of pressing clarification about allegations of killings and mistreatment”.

The UN rights chief additionally highlighted a variety of different regarding conditions all over the world, together with in Russia, Pakistan and the Palestinian territory.

On China, he reiterated considerations raised in a report by his workplace a yr in the past concerning the scenario within the far-western Xinjiang area, which cited attainable crimes towards humanity towards Uyghurs and different Muslim minorities.

“As my Workplace highlighted a yr in the past, the considerations within the Xinjiang … requires robust remedial motion by the authorities,” Turk mentioned Monday, additionally voicing concern at “continued detention of human rights advocates”.

Mr. Turk additionally spoke concerning the scenario in Lebanon, decrying a complete lack of accountability for the 2020 Beirut port blast, that killed greater than 220 folks, urging “a global fact-finding mission to look into human rights violations associated to this tragedy.”

And he talked about the scenario in Iran, one yr after the loss of life of Mahsa Amini in custody after her arrest for allegedly breaching the strict costume code for girls.

Mr. Turk voiced concern at a invoice that might impose harsher penalties for breaching the costume code, and “renewed deployment of the morality police.”

Local weather change and environmental degradation performed a task in plenty of the rights conditions he talked about, together with in Africa’s Sahel area.

Mr. Turk insisted on the necessity to “counter the impunity of individuals and companies who severely plunder our surroundings”, welcoming a proposal to recognise “ecocide” as a global crime.

Amid the towering issues dealing with the world, Mr. Turk decried “politics of deception”.

“Helped by new applied sciences, lies and disinformation are mass-produced to sow chaos, to confuse, and in the end to disclaim actuality and guarantee no motion can be taken that would endanger the pursuits of entrenched elites,” he mentioned.

“Probably the most obvious case of that is climate change.”

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