Climate justice: UN rules Australia violated islander rights

Read the full story in Nature.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has found that the Australian government violated the rights of people living on four islands in the Torres Strait and has ordered it to pay for the harm caused. The committee ruled last week that the country had failed to protect islanders from the effects of climate change, making their claim the first successful one of this kind.

The Torres Strait islands off the northern tip of Australia are already feeling the brunt of climate-change damage. Rising sea levels, coastal erosion and flooding have had devastating impacts on the island communities.

Bridget Lewis, at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, studies how human-rights law can be applied to environmental cases. Lewis spoke to Nature about the case and its implications for other communities seeking redress for climate-change harms.

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