The island nation of the Maldives said it made a big step forward Friday toward protecting its very existence, which it fears is threatened by global warming.
The Indian Ocean archipelago, which says it risks loosing its entire territory to rising sea levels, leaving its 360,000 inhabitants with no place to go, drummed up enough support in a key U.N. body to request a study on the impact of climate change on human rights.
"We feel it is very important that the Human Rights Council start addressing the issue of climate change," said the Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid.
"If we look at the consequences of climate change, it is the individual human rights of every person on the planet which is going to be violated, including the right to life," he told The Associated Press by telephone from the Maldives.
Some countries were unhappy to link climate change to human rights. Russia said the United Nations already has enough agencies tackling the problem.
But Shahid said the Maldives wants the council's work to be complementary to other U.N. organizations dealing with climate change, such as the Nobel Prize-winning U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The 47-nation council said in the document adopted by consensus that it is "concerned that climate change poses an immediate and far-reaching threat to people and communities around the world and has implications for the full enjoyment of human rights."
The Maldives, which consist of 1,200 islands, were joined by other small island countries such as the Fiji Islands and Tuvalu in offering the resolution. They have said they risk disappearing altogether if global warming continues unabated and that the world would see hundreds of thousands of stateless people who have nowhere to go, no government to protect them or to deliver basic services.
The 3,000 inhabitants of Papua New Guinea's Carteret Islands, in the far western Pacific, are already preparing to be among the world's first "climate refugees."
As seas expand from warming and from the runoff of melting land ice, higher and higher tides are eating away at tiny places like the Carterets, a sandy atoll of a half-dozen islands. Its people are getting ready to abandon the islands over the next several years, resettling on designated land on nearby Bougainville island.
Shahid said the inhabitants of the Maldives "don't intend to go anywhere."
If significant measures are taken now, the tiny island nation can be saved, he said. "It's not too late, but time is ticking."
-Maldives gets UN top human rights body to study climate change
What Development Economists Need to Know About Climate Change ;
Schelling started his presentation by characterizing the climate change issue as a bargaining between developed countries, leaving the developing countries with a limited role. Yet it is the developing countries that are truly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, he said. This is largely because in developing countries so many people live on agriculture. Additionally, Schelling explained, this is where the bulk of the population resides, and will increasingly reside in the next few decades. Other reasons for developing countries’ vulnerability that Schelling cited included weaker health care systems and less access to crucial nutrients, clean water, and sewage systems. Additionally, he pointed out that as climates become warmer, vectors that carry pathogens (mosquitoes, flies) become more numerous and also more virulent. These will all be key factors in offsetting the effects of climate change, Schelling said, and as such the best defense of developing countries against climate change will be their own development. This will allow them to become less dependent on agriculture and become sufficiently wealthy to afford a decent public health infra-structure.
Another moronic move by the U.N. Human Rights Council