The Question Before the Court
The Question to which the court addresses itself is this: Has this government adequately met its moral and legal obligation to protect and fulfill the rights of its citizens with respect to mitigating and adapting to the climate crisis? The prosecuting team will be arguing that the government has not adequately met its obligation to protect and fulfill the rights of its citizens with respect to the climate crisis. The representative defending the government will, probably, argue that the government has adequately met that obligation, or at least has tried to. The jury members, in their deliberations, will be deciding which argument best fits the facts.
The Prosecutor’s Argument
The prosecution’s central argument will be
a) that respecting human rights is absolutely essential for people to enjoy a minimally decent life,
b) that it is government’s central purpose and obligation to respect, protect and fulfill those rights,
c) that the climate crisis puts at risk most or all human and constitutional rights,
d) especially certain rights the prosecution will choose to highlight – such as the rights to life, to security of person, to liberty, to water, to education, to health, to an adequate standard of living, to special care and assistance for women and children, and many other such rights – and
e) that this accused government is failing in its fundamental moral obligation to do its share as a government to protect these rights. Each of those elements in the basic argument will be fleshed out in arguments presented by the prosecution and its witnesses.
The prosecutor(s) will want to draw particular attention to certain specific rights that they see as most clearly at risk in their climate-changed world. These specific rights, such as those mentioned above, can be easily found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and several other human rights Declarations and Conventions that have been broadly endorsed around the world. The Specific Rights page below provides details about several of those rights that prosecutors may wish to include in their arguments.