24 May 2024 - Brazil, El Salvador, Peru

Children to tell Inter-American Court of Human Rights how climate change is affecting them in historic hearing

Joselim from Peru will speak at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Joselim, 17, from Peru, will tell the Inter-American Court of Human Rights how climate change is negatively affecting the rights of children across the region. Photo by Save the Children. More content available here
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BRASILIA, 24 May 2024 – Two teenage girls will give first-hand accounts on how climate change is negatively impacting the rights of children during a historic hearing in Brazil today, drawing on their own experiences and discussions with peers across the Americas.  
Joselim, 17, from Peru, and Camila, 14, from El Salvador, will tell the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) how the climate crisis is depriving them of their rights as outlined in the Convention of the Rights of the Child, such as education, survival and development.  
They will tell the Court how extreme weather such as heatwaves and heavy rain is decimating agriculture and driving up food prices, contributing to a health and nutrition crisis in children and families. They will also highlight how the impacts of climate change can disrupt learning for children, with increasingly adverse weather conditions such as floods and landslides preventing children from getting to school.  
The hearing forms part of the second phase of an historic inquiry which started last year and was instigated by Colombia and Chile, which asked the court to set out what legal responsibilities states have to tackle climate change and to stop it breaching people’s human rights.  
This “advisory opinion” could be highly influential, setting the framework for future legal action.  
Joselim, 17, said:   "Looking after Mother Earth is urgent because time is against us. Children, adolescents, young adults, and humanity in general should enjoy a healthy, clean, dignified, and safe environment. This requires change to rebuild a conscious society, in which children and adolescents are active participants. We should take care of the earth we live on and preserve humanity. My call to action for authorities is to respect our Mother Earth, preserve it, and take care of it.  
“We need leaders to invest in the recovery of agriculture, in education, and in environmental plans and public policies with adequate resources and personnel. We need them to promote recycling, using renewable energy, and adopting agricultural production techniques that are friendlier to nature so that more children and adolescents can enjoy a healthy, clean, and safe environment.  
Camila,14, said: “The Court must listen to and learn from children and adolescents about how we are living through the climate crisis and its impact on our rights. Climate change is affecting our right to health in many ways, for example, causing deaths and illnesses from extreme heat waves, storms, and floods, toxic air pollution, droughts, food shortages, the spread of diseases like cholera and dengue fever, and serious infections from increased animal diseases that are transmitted to people. All this, in turn, generates poverty and displacement.” 
Camila will also stress the urgent need for leaders to address the adverse impacts of the climate crisis on health systems by investing in improving health infrastructure and making healthcare more accessible to people in rural and remote communities.   
Today’s hearing is taking place following the submission to the Court of an Amicus Curiae brief in which an organisation can set out legal arguments and recommendations. This was initiated by child-led networks, Molacnnats and Red Latinoamericana de Niñas, Niños y Adolescentes (REDNNyAs), both of which are partners of Save the Children. The process was also technically supported by Peruvian organisation Peruvian Society of SPDA and facilitated by Save the Children through its regional civil society strengthening programme.
It follows months of consultations with children across the region on how their rights are being eroded by the impacts of climate change and on the measures that States should adopt to protect human rights in the face of the climate crisis, with special emphasis on the right to health, education, adequate food and recreation. These views will be incorporated into the speeches given by Joselim and Camila today.  
Victoria Ward, Regional Director for Save the Children in Latin America and the Caribbean, said:  
Climate change is mostly affecting those who are least responsible for the damage - children. Those children already facing hunger and conflict, poverty and discrimination are suffering most of all. 
“Across Latin America and the Caribbean, we have recently seen unprecedented heatwaves and droughts that have forced schools to close, and caused long-lasting damage to crop and agriculture that is sending food prices skyrocketing and pushing families into poverty. Brazil has also experienced its worst flooding in 80 years that has displaced more than 580,000 people from their homes.  
“Children are demanding change. Their powerful experiences and solutions will only make the fight against climate change stronger. And we know that the only way adults can truly protect children’s rights is by including children in making decisions that affect them. That’s why it’s fantastic to see Joselim and Camila using this platform to speak out about how the climate crisis is eroding the rights of children across the region. Let’s hope they are listened to.” 
In Latin America and the Caribbean and across the world, Save the Children is working with governments to find ways to increase funding for climate policies and actions that protect children’s rights.  
Save the Children works with, and for children, putting their rights and views first, and supporting them to tell their governments and human rights bodies how their lives are impacted by climate change and environmental degradation, so those accountable understand their obligations to children.  
Save the Children is implementing climate programmes in over 50 countries worldwide and delivering direct climate action – from working with communities to adapt to climate changes impacting them now, to forecasting future emergencies and strengthening communities’ ability to anticipate, adapt, prepare, respond, and recover.  
The Inter-American Court is one of the three regional courts for the protection of human rights, along with the European Court of Human Rights and the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights. It was set up in 1979 to interpret and apply the American convention on human rights, and its jurisdiction is accepted by around 20 states, including most Latin American countries and several Caribbean islands. 
As well as seeking clarity on children’s rights, this request also asks the Inter-American court of human rights to look into how the crisis is impacting  women’s rights, and tackling loss and damage, with recognition that communities in lower income countries are experiencing the impacts of the climate crisis acutely, having done the least to contribute to global emissions and warming temperatures. 
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