Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.

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Alaska Institute for Justice

The Alaska Institute for Justice (AIJ) works with Alaska Native communities to address climate change impacts and defend their human rights in the face of disappearing lands.
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Location: Anchorage, Alaska

UUSC and the Alaska Institute for Justice (AIJ) developed a partnership in 2017 to advance a rights-based response protecting and respecting the rights of Native Alaskan tribes threatened by encroaching erosion as a result of melting glaciers and sea level rise.

The most significant impact of AIJ’s work with the tribes is the development and implementation of advocacy strategies to address the ongoing lack of resources and technical assistance to respond to climate impacts. Federal and state legislation continue to impose barriers for the tribes. An official visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of the internally displaced is a critical next step for the tribes in Alaska to advocate that their rights must be protected as the climate crisis continues to impact their lives and livelihoods.

With UUSC’s support, AIJ assisted 15 Alaska Native communities in designing and implementing community-based monitoring of the impacts of environmental change on health, well-being, and infrastructure. Community-based monitoring provides critical information to determine whether and when relocation is required. UUSC also helped convene and organize a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in October 2022 where a representative from the Native Village of Kivalina discussed the impacts of climate change and the inadequate response of the state of Alaska and the federal government to the needs of Indigenous communities.

AIJ, in collaboration with its partners Alaska Native tribes, is transforming governance systems to ensure that the human rights of Alaska Native communities are protected. One example of this is AIJ’s work to facilitate the co-production of knowledge between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service and 15 Alaska Native communities to document winter storms and their impacts on community infrastructure and well-being.

Image Credit: Alaska Institute for Justice