Human Rights and the New Reality of Climate Change: Adaptation’s Limitations in Achieving Climate Justice

In 2005, the Inuit of Canada and the United States filed a petition with the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, alleging that their respective governments had violated their human rights by failing to mitigate climate change harms. The Inuit alleged violations of several specific human rights, including the right to enjoy their culture; the right to enjoy and use the lands they have traditionally occupied; the right to use and enjoy their personal property; the right to health; the right to life, physical integrity, and security; the right to their own means of subsistence; and the right to residence and movement and inviolability in the home. Although the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ultimately rejected the petition, the Inuit’s petition marked the beginning of worldwide attempts to recognize the adverse effects of climate change on human rights.