By Cloda McCormack, The Chronicle
As the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) begins discussions on promoting a rights-based approach to addressing climate change and environmental refugees, some delegates refuse to forget the actions of others in previous meetings of the current committee. Others, however, look at new discussions as a clean slate.
" [Ecuador] would definitely like to see these larger and more powerful developed nations aiding these smaller, developing nations,” a representative of the Latin American country stated. She continued with her country's fears of the People’s Republic of China, stating, “Something I am quite worried about is China’s plan, as they’ve said in a previous resolution that if our loans aren’t paid back in x amount of years, they will jump in and take control with a more hands-on approach, and I am worried about that, the spread of imperialism.”
One of the largest issues concerning Ecuador is climate change, as it affects the melting of their glacier surface — by 2050, there is projected to be a 55% loss of the glacier surface. Much of their natural spring and clean water comes from this glacier surface, raising concerns throughout their country.
An interview with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) exposed another viewpoint in the committee. “We worked with China on the previous resolution, and although we will not be working together this time, we do not see China as a threat or an imperialist power whatsoever. Instead, we see them as working in the best interest of every nation present, not solely to promote their own agenda,” stated the representative of the DRC.
Seeing as each member state has different environmental challenges, it is not certain at this time which direction the committee will take. It is yet to be seen if member states can stay on track and not allow previous actions to overshadow the task at hand.