CHR to conduct first hearing investigating possible contribution of carbon to climate change and its impact on human rights

CHR to conduct first hearing investigating possible contribution of carbon to climate change and its impact on human rights

Press Release | 26 March 2018

QUEZON CITY—The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is set to proceed with its formal inquiry hearing starting Tuesday, 27 March 2018, as a response to a petition seeking to investigate so-called “carbon majors” for allegedly contributing to climate change and its impact on the rights of the Filipino people.

“The inquiry asks if climate change impacts human rights and, if so, whether ‘carbon majors’ have a responsibility for it,” said Commissioner Roberto Eugenio T. Cadiz, who chairs the said national inquiry.

The petition was filed by typhoon victims, human rights groups, and concerned citizens before the CHR, seeking to frame climate change as a human rights issue.

Carbon major companies are producers of oil, natural gas, coal and cement. Most of them are non-state, transnational entities.

“The Commission, mindful of its general mandate to uphold human rights in the Philippines, accepted the petition as the Constitution directs it to investigate and monitor all matters concerning the human rights of the Filipino people,” Commissioner Cadiz added.

The inquiry, fully entitled as “National Inquiry on the Impact of Climate Change on the Rights of the Filipino People and the Responsibility therefor, if any, of the ‘Carbon Majors,’” also seeks to promote the notion that businesses have an obligation to respect human rights, as enunciated under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Commissioner Cadiz, however, clarified that the Commission fully recognizes the principle of territoriality in regard to the exercise of jurisdiction over any state or party and does not attempt to disregard the same. It merely seeks to inquire if climate change impacts human rights and, if so, whether the “carbon majors” (and other duty bearers) have a responsibility therefor.

Inquiry Process

The national inquiry process consists of: research and data gathering (site visits, fact-finding missions, community dialogues, and consultations with experts and other National Human Rights Institutions); public hearings; and developing recommendations.

Community dialogues, in particular, seek to gather anecdotal evidence from individuals on the impacts of severe/extreme weather disturbances on their communities.

The Commission has already conducted activities vital to the ongoing inquiry, such as fact-finding missions in Tacloban, Tanuanan, Libon, and Ilagan. The Commission is currently conducting more of these fact-finding missions and community dialogues within the first half of 2018.

Apart from the hearing this 27-28 March at the CHR Session Hall in the Commission’s central office in Quezon City, the succeeding hearings are expected to proceed as follows:

Date

Venue

23-24 May 2018 CHR Session Hall
19-20 June 2018 CHR Session Hall
29-30 August 2018 CHR Session Hall
24-28 September 2018 New York (exact venue TBA)
16-17 October 2018 CHR Session Hall
05-09 November 2018 London School of Economics
11-12 December 2018 CHR Session Hall

 

Commissioner Cadiz notes that the inquiry hearing process shall be dialogic, rather than adversarial, without sacrificing due process of law. “The inquiry, it is hoped, would result in the improvement and/or development of measures to further protect and promote human rights in this era of climate change,” Commissioner Cadiz said. ■

 

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