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The Greatest Threat to the Human Right to Health: Climate Change

“The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition,” according to the World Health Organization. Health as a human right, however, has been widely overlooked as it becomes increasingly threatened by the effects of climate change. The health effects are not only diverse but also overwhelmingly negative and wide-ranging. These effects being both direct and indirect will therefore impact all individuals as well as economies worldwide. Populations are pressured to change their diets, rapid changes to ice, snow, and land result in more life-threatening accidents, and natural sources of drinking water are disappearing and diminishing in quality. It is estimated that between 2030 and 2050, there will be 250,000 additional annual deaths resulting from heat exposure, malaria, diarrhoea, and childhood malnutrition. The protection of the environment has thus become a crucial part of the contemporary human rights doctrine. According to the Office of the High Commissions for Human Rights, “Human rights law requires each State to do more than merely refrain from interfering with human rights itself; it also requires the State to undertake due diligence to protect against such harm from other sources.” The State has a duty to its people to safeguard their well being even if it means regulating environmentally harmful corporations and industries. Therefore, it is the evident inaction by global institutions, such as governments, relating to the exacerbation of climate change that violates the fundamental human right to health.

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Addressing a Threat to the Future of Children: Climate Change

According to the World Health Organization, approximately eighty percent of the injuries, illnesses, and deaths resulting from climate change are in children. This stems from the increased presence of extreme weather events resulting from human-induced climate change such as droughts, floods, storms, and heatwaves that children are significantly more vulnerable too. These events directly affect people across the globe but it is the most blameless and innocent members of our communities who will suffer the greatest. For the first time in human history, we are in a state of climate emergency, requiring us to defend first and foremost those on the front line who are likely to suffer most from the effects of climate change: children.

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Presumed Innocent: Cash Bail and Pretrial Detention in the United States

Kalief Browder was arrested in May 2010 at the age of sixteen; he was accused of stealing a backpack. His bail was set at $3,000—an amount that his mother could not afford. For the next three years, Browder was held in pretrial detention on Rikers Island, a New York City prison notorious for a culture of violence propagated by its guards. While there, he endured two years of solitary confinement which led him to attempt suicide several times. Browder refused multiple plea deals, adamant that he had not committed a crime. Finally, three years, thirty-one court dates, and multiple plea deals later, Browder’s case was dismissed on May 29th, 2013. He was released the next day.

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US and Iran: Sacrificial Sanctions

Contemporary international relations between the United States and Iran are a classic case of prioritizing inter-state objectives over human welfare. Amid rising tensions, people have become more focused on the race for superiority between Iran and the United States, rather than the resulting human suffering and violence.

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New Issue of Speak! Newspaper on the Stands

The most recent issue of Speak! is now on the stands in Leacock and Redpath. This issue focusses on Disability Rights, and includes articles on Cerebral Palsy in South Africa, Autism in India, Disability Services provided…

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Speak up, nationally!

REQUEST FOR SUBMISSIONS – email pitches to by OCTOBER 31st Speak Magazine is seeking feature submissions for its upcoming issue, “The Children’s Right to Speak.” Speak is the Journalists for Human Rights’ annual national…