PRESS RELEASE

COMMUNIQUE DE PRESSE

Year 2009 Selected
En Français
N°: 090/2009
17 September 2009 [Lome - Togo]

CONFERENCE ADOPTS HUMAN RIGHTS-BASED APPROACH TO CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUES IN WEST AFRICA

							
	Participants attending a regional conference entitled “Regional Conference on 
Protection Challenges to Climate Change in West Africa”, have ended their two-
day conference in Lome, the Togolese capital with a call for the use of a 
human rights-based approach to address climate change challenges in the region.
The call reflects the adoption of a broader social dimension to the climate 
change debate, considering the growing negative impact of climate change on 
West Africa which affects the stability of the region, including the human 
security and rights of the citizens of the region. 
In particular are conflicts arising from the depletion of natural resources 
and the infringement of displaced persons’ rights, including the rights to 
shelter, food, clean water, health, education and their aspiration to dignity 
and a better future. 
In a declaration issued on Wednesday, 16th September 2009 entitled “Lome 
Declaration on Climate Change and Protection of Civilians in West Africa”, the 
participants also recommended the establishment of a special fund specifically 
to help address climate change-induced impact on affected part of the 
population.
In addition, they called for measures to protect climate-affected persons, 
especially women, children and the youth in order to preserve the full 
enjoyment of their fundamental human rights. 
To ensure a better protection of the West African population, the participants 
further agreed that a regional platform should be established for data based 
development and information exchange among ECOWAS Member States. 
They also advocated the drafting of new legal instruments aimed at ensuring 
the protection for climate-induced persons in the region. 
Their call for new legal instruments is consistent with their acknowledgement 
of the urgency to encourage the realization of the protection of the needs of 
those West African citizens who do not fall within the existing legal 
arrangements such as the International Refugee Law, the UN Guiding Principles 
on Internally displaced persons and the African Union Convention on Refugees. 
While recalling, amongst others, the principles and goals of the ECOWAS 
regional policy and plan of action on disaster risk reduction as well as the 
regional action programme to reduce vulnerability to climate change, the 
participants also recommended the strengthening of the capacity of national 
and regional stakeholders in the area of humanitarian emergency preparedness 
and response. 
Their concerns are expected to be reflected in Africa’s presentation at the 
15th United Nations Conference on Climate Change which will be held from 7th 
to 18th December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. 
In this regard, the conference has urged regional leaders to ensure that the 
voices of the peoples of West Africa be heard as appropriate at the Copenhagen 
conference. 
It was noted that this was crucial to the ECOWAS Vision 2020 aimed at moving 
from an ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of the people. 
The participants also called on the international community to provide 
supplementary resources needed to mobilize ad-hoc support for on-going 
initiatives of ECOWAS Member States in adaptation programmes, including those 
related to the protection and respect for human rights, risk reduction, 
disaster preparedness and response capacity.
Similarly, they urged ECOWAS Member States to promote and establish adaptation 
mechanisms which take into consideration regional cooperation, national 
expertise and knowledge to formulate such multi-sectoral response needed to 
tackle effectively the global challenge at the regional level. 
Participants at the conference - which was facilitated in collaboration with 
the ECOWAS Commission by the United Nations Office in West Africa (UNOWA), the 
West Africa regional offices of the OHCHR and OCHA - included representatives 
from ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania, national human rights institutions 
in West Africa, the African Union, development partners as well as government 
and non-governmental agencies. 
These included the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Bank, the 
International Organization on Migration (IOM), the International Committee of 
the Red Cross (ICRC) and the following UN agencies: UNDP, UNEP, UNICEF, UNIFEM 
and ILO.  



 


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