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COP21 and the future of humanity

“The meaningful participation of civil society in the international climate negotiations is essential to achieving a just and sustainable international order,” says Alfred de Zayas, the United Nations’ independent expert on a democratic and equitable international order.

The independent expert expressed his concern at reports coming to him from several civil society actors, known as observers in this process, that indicate that they are being blocked from attending crucial negotiating sessions at the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) that is currently taking place in Le Bourget, a suburb of Paris, France until 11 December 2015.

Since the opening of COP21, which is now in its second and last week, observers say they have been prevented from attending crucial meetings and that as a consequence the important climate treaty is being negotiated largely behind closed doors and without adequate openness and transparency.

The independent expert draws attention to the right to participate in one’s government, found for example in article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to receive adequate information about public decisions, found in article 19 of this same widely-ratified treaty. These human rights require the highest degree of respect for the public participation in negotiations such as those taking place in Paris.

While the need for security and rules regarding admission as observers must be respected, the failure of States and their international institutions to respect the rights of participation of observers can contribute to significantly damaging the legitimacy of any climate agreement that emerges. The independent expert therefore urges the State Parties, the President of COP21 H.E. Laurent Fabius, and the UNFCCC Secretariat under the able guidance of Ms Christiana Figueres to do all in their power to ensure that observers are able to play their important role of observing all of the negotiations.