The United Nations has granted children the right to hold countries accountable for inaction against climate change. The UN body, on August 29, signed a pivotal treaty to amend the 1989 Convention on the Right of the Child, which addresses environmental issues.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child labelled the climate crisis as a “structural form of violence against children.” Although the committee’s decision doesn’t carry legal binding, it remains a powerful step towards safeguarding children’s rights in the context of a safer climate and holding countries accountable for violations.
According to the panel’s report, “the extent and magnitude of the triple planetary crisis, encompassing the climate emergency, biodiversity collapse, and pervasive pollution, poses an urgent and systemic threat to children’s rights worldwide.”
The report also urges countries to establish “a legal and institutional framework within which children can effectively exercise their rights” in relation to climate and the environment.
The 1989 Child Rights Convention is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty, signed by every country except the United States.
The panel’s report highlighted the challenges that low-income households face in the wake of the climate crisis. Impoverished families exhibit less resilience to climate change, exacerbating the burdens on their lives, especially those of children. This leads to various socio-economic problems such as child trafficking, gender-based violence, and child marriages, as stated in the report.
This development is a ray of hope for many child environmental activists who are taking action against governments for their inability to combat climate change. Numerous environmental activists have welcomed this treaty.
In 2020, six youngsters from Portugal took 32 European countries to the European Court of Human Rights, demanding that these nations implement more ambitious emissions cuts to safeguard their future physical and mental well-being.