ICC EXECUTIVE COUNCIL RESOLUTION 2003-O1
RE: CLIMATE CHANGE AND INUIT HUMAN RIGHTS
WHEREAS ICC's 1992 Principles and Elements for a Comprehensive Arctic Policy states:
Inuit Rights Transcend National Boundaries
1. It is recognized that Inuit rights extend across the circumpolar regions.... Inuit have the right to enjoy the full measure of human rights without hindrance of discrimination. In order to protect Inuit human rights and interests in the Arctic regions, focus should be necessarily directed to international forums since many related issues are increasingly regulated at this level.
WHEREAS the Kuujjuaq Declaration notes:
7. Strongly Promote the need to keep the Arctic environment safe from transboundary pollutants (POPs) and heavy metals, rapid climate change and, generally unsustainable development; and therefore:
Instruct ICC to work in partnership with Arctic and other governments and appropriate NGOs to develop global initiatives to combat climate change in general, and an Arctic climate change program in particular.
WHEREAS ICC has always viewed human rights and a healthy environment as fundamentally linked. The careful management and protection of the Arctic environment is a requirement for the enjoyment of Inuit human rights, particularly as they relate to the "subsistence" or "traditional" economy.
WHEREAS Inuit from all regions are reporting changes to the climate and Inuit traditional knowledge studies suggest that Inuit are already attempting to adjust to climate change.
WHEREAS scientific studies suggest that the impact of global climate change will be most marked-in the Arctic and Inuit will bear a disproportionate burden of the impacts of climate change.
WHEREAS climate change computer models developed in the United States, Canada, and western Europe predict massive thinning and geographical retreat of permanent ice with only a small zone left in the Arctic Ocean by 2050 to 2070. Much of the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer.
WHEREAS general cargo vessels, including oil and gas carriers, may use the Northwest Passage in the summer to connect East Asia and the western seaboard of North America with western Europe and the eastern seaboard of North America. American, Canadian, and Greenlandic waters will be most impacted by the opening of the passage as will the Inuit who travel and hunt in those waters and on that ice.
WHEREAS Climate change will erode the value and meaning of harvesting rights pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (1971), James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (1975), Inuvialuit Final Agreement (1984), and the Nunavut Agreement (1993).
WHEREAS the governments of the United States and the Federation of Russia have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emission of greenhouse gases.
WHEREAS in January 2003 in Ottawa, Canada, the Executive Council of ICC was informed by Martin Wagner of Earth Justice and Donald Goldberg of the Center for International Environmental Law about bringing a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to claim a breach of human rights law owing to the impacts suffered by Inuit from global climate change.
WHEREAS Lloyd Axworthy, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada and current director of the Liu Institute of the University of British Columbia as well as a member of the Board of Trustees of the McArthur Foundation, has confirmed his political and fundraising support if it is requested by ICC.
WHEREAS James Anaya, an indigenous international human rights lawyer with vast experience working with and pleading in front of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, has corroborated that ICC has a meritorious case that could break new ground in international law.
WHEREAS Mr. Anaya has offered his expertise as well as the resources of the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program at the College of Law at the University of Arizona to ICC should it be required.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOVED that the Office of the Chair be directed to:
1. Develop and implement a political, legal, and media climate change strategy to bring Inuit concerns about global climate change and the threat that this poses to Inuit human rights to the attention of international agencies and decision-makers with the aim of strengthening international arrangements to combat global climate change. ,
2. Bring Arctic/Inuit perspectives on climate change to the attention of decisionmakers in North America, western Europe, United Nations agencies, and to governments that participate in the Conferences of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change with the aim of positioning Inuit to influence international discussions and decisions, particularly related to the post-Kyoto Protocol commitment period-after 2008.
3. Develop a petition to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IAHRC) or another appropriate body(ies) seeking a declaration that the impacts in the Arctic of human-induced climate change infringes upon the environmental, subsistence, and other human rights of Inuit.
4. To keep the Executive Council regularly informed and to seek the advice and approval of the Executive Council before instigating any such human rights petition.