From Human Rights to Climate Justice: An Analysis of Publications from Amnesty International




Borchardt, Maia I.

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Human rights are a powerful legal and rhetorical tool for guiding international systems. The introduction of an international human rights legal framework in the mid-20th century created a “universal” framework of rights, but not one that has gone uncontested. Emerging global issues, including climate change, challenge the efficacy of the human rights system as a force for comprehensive solutions and serve to highlight the debates between “equity” and “equality.” While some scholarship has offered insight into the human rights discourses surrounding climate change, research that elucidates how these discourses are formed and their effects on more traditional rights rhetoric is sparse. This thesis describes current scholarship on climate change in connection to human rights and takes Amnesty International as a case study for human rights organizations’ self-structured links to the issue, using qualitative description to note rhetorical patterns and gesture to these patterns’ broader implications. Ultimately, the thesis argues that for human rights to retain their rhetorical power in the context of climate justice, human rights need to either be centered in arguments that explicitly argue for climate justice or be reimagined to include a broader scope of interdependencies and relational frameworks.


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