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The Impact of Climate Change on Human Rights and the Legal Obligations of States to Protect Them – A Comparative Jurisdictional Analysis

Zunaida Moosa Wadiwala


The Urgenda judgement in 2019 has paved the way for courts in Global North jurisdictions to root out strong links between human rights and the climate crisis. The UNEP Global Climate Litigation Report 2023 recognises that climate litigation is growing globally as a key tool in delivering climate justice. The report has unearthed human rights linkages to climate change and how this is leading to greater protections for vulnerable groups is society as well as compelling governments to pursue more ambitious mitigation and adaptation climate goals. This paper interrogates these statements within a transboundary climate litigation framework and considers, inter alia the global character of climate change and its influence in the courts’ reasoning. The objective of this study is to consider these claims by analysing the lens through which judges in Global North jurisdictions have viewed the climate crisis in comparison to their counterparts in other jurisdictions. This study is based on landmark transnational cases and considers how if, at all, the human rights turn has traversed to Global South jurisdictions. The anticipated findings will contribute to understanding the role and obligations of courts as part of securing climate justice for people using a rights-based approach in litigation in different jurisdictions.

University of the Witwatersrand, School of law. For Correspondence: <>


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