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Climate Change, Human Rights, and the Right to Be Cold

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  • Introduction: In December 2005, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (\"ICC\") (renamed the Inuit Circumpolar Council in July 2006) publicly lodged a lengthy petition against the United States with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (the \"Commission\"), a Washington D.C.-based organization that is one of two regional human rights bodies operating under the auspices of the Organization of American States (\"OAS\"). The petition alleged that the United States, as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, was committing various human rights violations against the Inuit residents of the Arctic through its climate change and global warming practices and policies, including its decision not to ratify Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (\"Kyoto Protocol\"). In essence, the United States was to be sued for violating the human right to be cold. A year later (according to news reports since no verification can be found in the documentation posted on the website maintained by the Commission), the ICC received a letter of rejection from the Commission indicating that the ICC petition had failed to meet the basic requirements of admissibility for further consideration within the inter-American human rights regime. According to the Nunatsiaq News, an English-Inuktitut weekly newspaper published in Canada, the ICC had received a letter advising that the Commission \"will not be able to process your petition at present .... [T]he information provided does not enable us to determine whether the alleged facts would tend to characterize a violation of rights protected by the American Declaration.\"

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    Article (Published)
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  • License
    © 2006 The authors. This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
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  • Citation for previous publication
    • Joanna Harrington, Climate Change, Human Rights, and the Right to Be Cold, 18 Fordham Envtl. L. Rev. 513 (2006). Available at:
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