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International Human Rights Commission to Release Findings of U.S. Tour of Indigenous Communities Impacted by Climate Change

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michael Givens, 857-540-0617, mgivens@uusc.org

International Human Rights Commission to Release Findings of U.S. Tour of Indigenous Communities Impacted by Climate Change

July 24 event will see the Special Rapporteur provide critical observations on the effects of climate change on Native American communities. 

On Monday, July 24, the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights (REDESCA) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will release its human rights findings from their in-loco visit to the United States, where they visited Alaska and Louisiana Indigenous communities who filed a petition with the Commission on the human rights of Indigenous Tribes in the context of climate-forced displacement in 2022. The visit was the Commission’s first visit to the United States related to the issue of climate-forced displacement and the Commission’s first visit to the State of Alaska. 

The Climate Emergency and Human Rights in the Americas Forum will feature a panel discussion with a representative from REDESCA and five Indigenous tribal leaders from Louisiana and Alaska. This forum is a high-level space to discuss the impacts of the climate emergency on human rights, as well as the work that REDESCA has developed in this regard. The event will also discuss inter-American initiatives to address climate change and the various impacts for frontline communities, environmental racism, and the inter generational effects of climate change. 

Five tribal leaders will attend the forum to discuss their lived experiences and provide feedback on the policy recommendations offered by the Special Rapporteur: 

  • Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe
  • Chief Devon Parfait, Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi Chitimacha Choctaw
  • Chief Démé Naquin Jr., Jean Charles Choctaw Nation
  • Morris J. Alexie, Nunapitchuk 
  • Stanilaus Tom, Newtok 

This event comes after a week-long visit to Louisiana and Alaska the Special Rapporteur made in late May of this year. 

“This forum will not just impact Indigenous communities in Alaska and Louisiana, but Native communities across the continental United States,” said Salote Soqo, Director of Advocacy, Global Displacement for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), which helped coordinate the May visit with its partner organizations EarthRights International, the Alaska Institute for Justice, and the Lowlander Center. “The findings and policy recommendations proffered by the Special Rapporteur will have a multiplicative effect—their observations will be of use to communities and governments who have been addressing these issues for generations.” 

The IACHR is the human rights arm of the Organization of American States (OAS), an international association of 35 independent nations in the Americas. One of 13 rapporteurs, the Special Rapporteur for Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights (REDESCA) promotes and protects the economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights of communities in the Americas and plays a pivotal role in monitoring human rights violations in the Western hemisphere. Soledad García Muñoz is the current Special Rapporteur holding the position. 

In May, Muñoz visited four coastal Louisiana Indigenous communities—the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi Chitimacha Choctaw Tribe, the Atakapa Ishak Chawasha of Grand Bayou Village, the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe (PACIT), and the Jean Charles Choctaw Nation—and four coastal communities in Alaska—Kwigillingok, Newtok, Nunapitchuk, and Kivalina. 

Learn more about the visit by reading an informative photo essay series on the visit. 

Photo Essay 1
Photo Essay 2
Photo Essay 3

Please note: The event is invitation only, however, members of the tribes will be available to speak on the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur after the event’s conclusion. 

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The Alaska Institute for Justice (AIJ) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the human rights of all Alaskans. Formerly known as the Alaska Immigration Justice Project, it transformed into the Alaska Institute for Justice to reflect the inclusion of an additional program dedicated to climate and social justice issues, the Research and Policy Institute.

The Lowlander Center supports Louisiana’s lowland communities and places, both inland and coastal, for the benefit of both people and environment.

EarthRights International is a non-governmental, non-profit organization that combines the power of law with the power of people in defense of human rights and the environment, which they define as “earth rights.” They take legal action against perpetrators of earth rights abuses, train activists, and work with communities to demand meaningful and lasting change.

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is a human rights and solidarity organization founded as a rescue mission in 1940 during the Holocaust. Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and with a membership of more than 35,000 supporters across the United States, UUSC’s programs focus on the issues of climate and disaster justice, migration justice, and international justice and accountability.