School Climate Strikes: Children’s rights

March 15, 2019

Leading human rights lawyers have spoken out in support of students’ right to attend today’s climate change strikes.

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights President Kerry Weste said, “Today 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 rights to freedom of expression, freedom of thought, freedom of association and peaceful assembly.”

“The right to freedom of assembly includes the right of groups to engage in protest and the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has emphasised a presumption in favour of the right of children to enjoy protest rights on an equal basis with adults.”

“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.”

Ms Weste said, “There is an increasing recognition of the interrelationship between human rights and environmental protection. The environment is a pre-requisite for the enjoyment of human rights. In March 2018, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, John Knox, presented the Framework Principles to the UN Human Rights Council. These set out states’ obligations under human rights law as they relate to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.”

“In ALHR’s view there can be no doubt that climate change is a threat to all human rights. Today children are letting Governments know how they feel about something 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.”

Contact: Matt Mitchell, ALHR media manager 0431 980 365.

Photo: Students in Sydney flooded Martin Place to make their point about climate change. (ABC Radio Sydney: Harriet Tatham)