The sinking of the strait: The implications of climate change for Torres strait islanders' human rights protected by the iccpr

The Torres Strait Islands are among the most vulnerable regions to climate change in Australia. This paper examines the implications of climate change for Torres Strait Islanders' human rights protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ('ICCPR'). A key purpose is to assess the viability of a complaint being made to the United Nations Human Rights Committee under the ICCPR Optional Protocol, contending that Australia's ongoing failure to adopt sufficient measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions constitutes a violation of Islanders' Covenant rights. Importantly, it is argued that despite the Rudd Government's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and announcement of improved domestic emissions abatement measures, Australia must still adopt much tougher measures before it will satisfy its obligations under the ICCPR. The article concludes that whilst a claim by Islanders would have compelling legal merit, the complexity of issues such as causation and standing mean that it is unclear how the Committee would ultimately determine the case.
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