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From Stakeholders to Rightsholders: Assessing Public Participation in the International Climate Regime journal article

Adrián Martínez Blanco

Carbon & Climate Law Review, Volume 15 (2021), Issue 4, Page 282 - 301

Public participation in international climate change decision-making can be considered a human right. Although the international climate regime established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was developed at the same time that the right to participate in environmental decision-making was fleshed out, the rules and practices of the UNFCCC frame public participation in terms of its value to the negotiation process rather than from a rights perspective. This article takes a detailed look at the legal framework of the international climate regime regarding public participation. It explores the historical development of public participation, from the negotiation of the UNFCCC to the current rules of procedure of the Convention’s constituted bodies. The article further analyses the obligations of parties to both the UNFCCC and relevant international access rights agreements, namely the Aarhus Convention and the Escazú Agreement. The article shows that the UNFCCC, as an international forum, is still far from recognising public participation as a human right in its decision-making process. The article contemplates the rules and practices of the international climate regime, and explores how these could approximate the principles and provisions of international access rights agreements.

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