Human rights at cop25 an issue of dignity, respect, survival, and accountability

I attended many sessions on human rights that called for transparency, equity, and inclusiveness in the negotiation process.

“Until then, severe inequalities will continue in terms of human rights,” said Michelle Bachelet in a session on “Empowering Climate Action,” one of the best events I attended. Rights were spelled out comprehensively: we must end the marginalization of women, children, indigenous peoples, and local communities, and determine a robust method for addressing intergenerational equity. It was a reminder that when acute climate emergencies occur in the form of floods, storms, or mudslides, a primary accident occurs, but secondary and tertiary actions like chemical spills or nuclear contamination may unfold slowly, and these also affect human rights.

“We consider a healthy environment a human right” -Leon Enada, Uraguay
“We will not have the workers shoulder the burden of this transition." -Linda Selas, Canadian Nurse Coaltion, calling for a just transition for workers and labor unions

“When frontline women lead, we win.”


Things seemed bleak in the middle of the second week of COP25, when negotiations about a just transition and human rights were not going well.

December 10 was a dark day, and it was hard for me to speak to anyone for a while. Here is my twitter post from that day.

Ultimately, a new five-year gender action plan (GAP), was agreed upon, which is a great triumph for human rights, a just transition, and the needs of indigeneous communities.

These “new activities provide the opportunity to meaningfully shift towards capacity building and enhanced implementation of gender-responsive climate action at all levels, including for example, the promotion of gender-responsive technology solutions and and preserving local, indigenous and traditional knowledge and practices in different sectors.”

-Ndivile Mokoena, GenderCC; Women for Climate Justice Southern Africa (source)

Things did not end up so well in regards to accountability, responsibility, and finance, however. NGO representatives were describing the texts coming from the negotiations as “completely unacceptable”, “extremely disappointing” and “disastrous”.

I was back in the states and still suffering from jetlag, and at 3 am on Sunday, I happened upon Ian Fry, speaking for Tuvalu in a Closing Plenary.

He directly referenced the United States: “If they get their way with the governance of the WIM, they will wash their hands of any actions to assist countries which have been affected by the impacts of climate change.” Fry said this was an “an absolute tragedy and a travesty,” and in stark words

noted that denying the issue of loss and damage “could be interpreted to be a crime against humanity.”

Created By
Kimberly Byrd


Created with images by Chang Hsien - "Subway train at rush hour" • Dulcey Lima - "International Women’s Day Women of the Tohono Indian Tribe in Tucson, AZ led the Tucson Women’s March in January 2019." • Annie Spratt - "Sierra Leone firewood" • Nandhu Kumar - "Woman Farmer - Paddy Field" • Dulcey Lima - "Tohono Indian Women led the Tucson 2019 Women’s March with a show of strength, resilience and power. This woman’s sign said: My Mom, Sisters, Aunties and Grandmas are sacred. Her son was by her side. International Women’s Day"