February 12, 2010

Climate Change is an issue that has the potential to affect every person on this planet. Because of this and the immediacy of the problems Climate Change presents, the issue has been gaining notoriety in recent years, from news coverage to presidential policy. To put Climate Change into context, many have begun studying the interplay between Climate Change and economics, from conversion costs to clean energy to trade routes influenced by new weather patterns. While this allows Climate Change to be understood in the context of monetary and behavioral effects, it does not fully address the humanitarian effects. In response to the shortcomings of this approach, some prominent scholars in this field have begun proposing that Climate Change should be understood in the context of Human Rights as well. This approach to understanding Climate Change will allow both humanitarian and economic concerns to be addressed in tandem and to have all costs, both monetary and nonmonetary, laid out before the decision makers. Adaptation will be integral in dealing with the economic and humanitarian impacts of Climate Change, which will require guidance.

There has been relatively little scholarly research in this context, but this view is gaining acceptance in influential communities. Among the groups taking notice of this Human Rights approach to Climate Change are the World Health Organization, the International Council on Human Rights, and, perhaps most notably, the United Nations, which has issued a resolution on the topic and commissioned a study. This issue was of key importance at the UNFCCC conference in Copenhagen that happened in December 2009. To take advantage of the opportunity to be at the forefront of research and guidance on this topic, the Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law together with the Dean Rusk Center and the University of Georgia School of Law will be hosting a conference to probe the question “What is the relationship between Human Rights and Climate Change?” Specifically, the conference will be focusing on the proper role of law in managing and regulating this relationship. The format of the conference will be a guided roundtable discussion, with topics ranging from an overview of the current state of thinking on the subject, to specific impacts, to the requisite role of particular institutions in regulation of these impacts.



Walker Room, 4th Floor, Dean Rusk Hall


8:00 - 8:30: Registration

8:30 – 10:40: Morning Round Table

  • Prof. Dan Bodansky (University of Georgia) - An Introduction to Climate Change (PowerPoint)
  • Prof. John Knox (Wake Forest) - An introduction to International Human Rights and The Environment
  • Prof. Naomi Roht-Arriaza (University of California, Hastings) - Potential Human Rights Effects of the Proposed Climate Change Regime (PowerPoint)

Moderator: Prof. Dan Bodansky (University of Georgia) 

10:40 – 10:50: Break 10:50 – 12:10: Morning Round Table

  • Prof. Rebecca Bratspies (City University of New York) - Human Rights and Environmental Regulation (PowerPoint)
  • Ms. Elizabeth O'Sullivan (US Environmental Protection Agency) - Focusing on Vulnerability: Incorporating Human Rights into Climate Change Planning (PowerPoint)

Moderator: Prof. Harlan Cohen (University of Georgia) 

12:10 – 12:30: Break 12:30 – 1:30: Keynote Address (Held over lunch)

Prof. Thomas Pogge (Yale) (Via Teleconference) - Poverty, Climate Change, and Overpopulation (PowerPoint)

1:30 – 1:40: Break 1:40 – 3:40: Afternoon Round Table

  • Prof. John Knox (Wake Forest University) - Climate Change Refugees
  • Prof. Svitlana Kravchenko (University of Oregon) - Rights of Access to Information and Public Participation in Climate Related Decisions: A Crucial Tool to Combat Global Warming (PowerPoint)
  • Prof. John Bonine (University of Oregon) - Climate Change Laws, Judicial Review, and Citizen Suits: Necessary Partners

Moderator: Prof. Peter Appel (University of Georgia) 

3:40 – 3:50: Conclusion


For more information or CLE registration please contact Blake McDaniel at gjiclconference@gmail.com or (229) 522-0790.