Last week the UN found Australia ‘guilty’ of having violated the human rights of Torres Strait Islanders, due to climate inaction.
The UN’ Human Rights Committee ruled that Australia had failed to take adequate action to cut emissions or adopt adaptation measures to protect the islands. It also said the country should “compensate the Islanders for harm suffered, … and TAKE MEASURES TO CONTINUE TO SECURE THE COMMUNITIES' SAFE EXISTENCE”.
The Torres Strait Islanders were represented by the wealthy UK environmental group, ‘ClientEarth’, funded by wealthy billionaire Winsome McIntosh, of the A&T supermarket chain. The Torres Strait Islanders’ case was the first climate change litigation brought by inhabitants of low-lying islands against a nation state. As ClientEarth lawyer, Sophie Marjanac, commented:
“This case opens the door for further legal actions and compensation claims by other climate affected people, and will give hope to those fighting for loss and damage at this year’s international climate talks in Egypt”.
However, those “climate affected people” should think twice about taking advantage of the ‘landmark’ ruling. It is little more than a ‘stalking horse’ for rich nations to use a ‘human rights argument’ justifying the declaration of a state of emergency over small islands and the forced relocation of their populations.
The 3rd National Climate Assessment states: “As sea level raises faster and coastal storms, erosion, and inundation cause more frequent or widespread threats, relocation (also called managed retreat or realignment), … will become a more pressing option”. A 2021 paper by “Young Australians in International Affairs” is just one of many published the last few years calling for first world states to pro-actively assist in moving the Islands’ “affected populations”.
The UN’s Torres Strait ruling provides the perfect legal basis for them to do so. After all, it instructs Australia to “take measures to continue to secure the communities' safe existence”. It will start gradually with the relocation of people from small, low lying coral atolls, most subject to sand erosion and king tides, but it won’t end there.
Eventually, ALL small and remote islands will be designated “at risk” from climate change. That’s why Islanders everywhere, need to be very, very careful how they respond when these slick-talking, wealthy European NGOs come knocking at their door. They might say they want to help but believe me, their idea of “helping” masks a different agenda altogether. One that ends with the loss of the Islanders’ homeland, way of life, culture and heritage.
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