Switzerland, first state to be condemned by the ECHR – L’Express

Switzerland first state to be condemned by the ECHR –

This may be the start of a long list of convictions to come. Switzerland has just been condemned this Tuesday, April 9, for its climate inaction. This is the first time that the Court, which enforces the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights, has condemned a State for its lack of initiatives to combat climate change. The ECHR has never before ruled on the responsibility of States in terms of action against climate change. A “historic” decision according to many specialists.

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The institution, which sits in Strasbourg, said by a majority of 16 votes to one that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the Convention on Human Rights. Man and, unanimously, violation of Article 6 relating to access to a court. In other words: this is the first time that the ECHR has condemned a State for failing to implement sufficient measures to combat climate change.

“A beginning”

The case was brought by the “Elders for Climate Protection” (2,500 Swiss women aged 73 on average) and four of its members who had also developed individual requests. The Court considered that the association was authorized to take legal action on behalf of people who could claim that their living conditions and health were threatened by climate change. On the other hand, for the four individual applicants, the Court judged that they did not meet the criteria relating to the status of victims and therefore declared their applications inadmissible.

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The ECHR also ruled on three separate cases related to climate change. In the two other cases, it declared inadmissible the requests made by young Portuguese people against Portugal and 31 other countries as well as that of an environmentalist ex-mayor from the north of France against the State.

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg did not fail to react very quickly, saying she believed that the ECHR’s decision “is only the beginning”. The court’s position “may mark a turning point in the fight for a livable future”, assured lawyer Gerry Liston, of the NGO Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) to TV5 World. “This would constitute the most significant legal development for Europe on climate change since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015,” he added.