School Climate Change Strikes: Human rights lawyers call on politicians to respect children’s democratic rights
Today is the day that the youth of the world stand up and be counted and leading human rights lawyers have spoken out in support of students’ right to attend climate change strikes.
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) President Kerry Weste said that ALHR stands with children and young people around Australia as they exercise their internationally-recognised human rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of speech and to be heard.
‘The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) explicitly establishes that all children have a right to be heard in all matters affecting them, as well as the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of thought, freedom of association and peaceful assembly,’ she said.
Respect for the views of children is one of the four core principles of the CRC and the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child
‘Indeed, respect for the views of children is one of the four core principles of the CRC and the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has emphasised a presumption in favour of children enjoying protest rights on an equal basis with adults.’
Ms Weste says that historically, protests have often inspired positive social change and the advancement of human rights. ‘Protests encourage the development of an engaged and informed citizenry and strengthen representative democracy by enabling direct participation in public affairs,’ she said.
‘A healthy, clean, sustainable environment is a pre-requisite for the enjoyment of human rights. There can be no doubt that climate change is a real and immediate threat to the human rights of all Australians.
Today children will be letting Governments know how they feel about an issue that will deeply affect their lives
‘Today children will be letting Governments know how they feel about an issue that will deeply affect their lives and those of the families they will grow up to have. All sides of politics should respect their democratic and internationally recognised right to do so.’
ALHR calls on the Australian Government to take urgent policy action designed to limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, consistent with the Paris Agreement, and live up to its obligations to ensure a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment in order to respect, protect and fulfil Australia’s international human rights obligations.