Open Letter on Climate Change
For the first time, the Committee on the Rights of the Child has published a separate clarification specifically for children, in addition to its formal decision under OP3 in the recent climate change case
Following its recent decision in the Sacchi et al v. Argentina case and four similar cases, the Committee on the Rights of the Child published an open letter to the 16 children who had submitted the communications, i.e. the authors. In this letter, the Committee provides a ‘simplified explanation of the case’ with the ‘hope’ that the children will be ‘empowered by the positive aspects of this decision’. It also ‘encourage[s]’ the children ‘to use the simplified explanation of the case, to share [their] message with other children and young people’. The Committee explains in accessible language the procedural ‘hurdles’, which the children did not overcome, i.e. the children did not exhaust domestic remedies, which made the Committee decide that the cases were inadmissible. In addition, it gave several reasons why this case has been ‘successful’. The Committee explains, among others, that it was particularly impressed by ‘the courage and determination of the authors’ which ‘ensured that [the] issue was brought to the attention of the only international complaints procedure dedicated to children’s rights’.
The open letter, in what the CRC Committee itself calls an ‘historic case’, fits in a movement around the concept of ‘child-friendly justice’, which aims to make justice proceedings more child-centred. At the domestic level, courts have started to experiment with child-friendly judgments in different legal proceedings, including in proceedings of family law, juvenile justice and constitutional law. Some courts incorporate one or more separate sections in the formal judgment providing clarifications in less formal language. Other courts have experimented with separate letters attached to the judgment and/or sent to the child together with the formal decision. The CRC Committee has published this child-specific clarification as an open letter on its website, apparently in an attempt to reach out to the authors of the case as well as to other children, and to make sure that children understand the significance of the Committee’s findings that the rights of children are affected by climate change and that states bear responsibility for that, beyond their jurisdictions.