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Human Rights and the Paris Agreement’s Implementation Guidelines: Opportunities to Develop a Rights-based Approach


Sébastien Duyck, Erika Lennon, Wolfgang Obergassel, Annalisa Savaresi, Sébastien Duyck, Erika Lennon, Wolfgang Obergassel, Annalisa Savaresi


The inclusion of references to human rights in the Paris Agreement was celebrated as a milestone towards greater integration of human rights in environmental and climate governance. Beyond their symbolic value, the significance of these provisions however depends on the extent to which they inform the implementation of the Paris Agreement both at the national and international levels. This article takes stock of the integration of human rights in climate governance and identifies concrete opportunities to ensure that human rights considerations are included in the Paris implementation guidelines to be adopted at the Conference of the Parties in Katowice in December 2018, promoting climate action that aligns with Parties’ human rights obligations. We first consider the relevance of human rights to climate action and the incremental recognition of these linkages in the international climate regime – both in the lead up to the adoption of the Paris Agreement and since. We then consider in specific terms how human rights could inform five key dimensions of the Paris Agreement’s implementation guidelines: guidance for nationally determined contributions, adaptation communications, transparency framework, global stocktake, and the Article 6 mechanisms. The article reflects on past experience of how climate policy impacts human rights and on proposals put forward in the context of the negotiations of the implementation guidelines, and concludes with recommendations on a rights-based approach to implementing the Paris Agreement.

Sébastien Duyck, Senior Attorney, Climate & Energy, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL); Affiliated Researcher, University of Lapland; Erika Lennon, Senior Attorney, Climate & Energy, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL); Wolfgang Obergassel, Project Co-ordinator, Wuppertal Institute; Annalisa Savaresi, Lecturer in Environmental Law, Stirling University. For correspondence: Sébastien Duyck <>, Erika Lennon <>, Wolfgang Obergassel <>, Annalisa Savaresi <>.


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