Climate Change and the Protection of Indigenous Peoples Under International Law in the Overseas Colonized Territories of the State
This project examines how the international legal (human rights) obligations of a colonizer state transcend into its overseas territories in the context of climate change and its impact on Indigenous Peoples. Its case studies are Kalaallit Nunaat / Greenland and the Cook Islands.
For Indigenous Peoples, the physical consequences of climate change are inherently connected to intangible ones, and can lead to the attenuation of cultural attachment to place, loss of agency, deterioration of mental health, and the erosion of cultural cohesion and identity. At the same time, climate change gives rise to new opportunities in precisely these locations. What does the law have to do with how competing interests are balanced? And where does international legal responsibility lie for upholding rights in these circumstances? Drawing on case studies from Greenland and the Cook Islands, this project maps where legal responsibility lies, interrogates how human rights protections can be meaningfully implemented, and provides legal clarity for stakeholders.
- Miriam Cullen, Benedicte Sofie Holm, and Céline Brassart-Olsen, “A Human Rights-Based Approach to Disaster Risk Management in Greenland: Displacement, Relocation, and the Legacies of Colonialism” (2023) Yearbook of International Disaster Law (Special Issue on Human Rights) (forthcoming) (email Miriam for a draft version)
- Miriam Cullen and Céline Brassart-Olsen, “Climate Change and Human Rights in the Overseas Colonized Territories of the State”, in Dina Lupin (ed.) A Research Agenda on Human Rights and the Environment (Edward Elgar) (2023)
- Miriam Cullen, “Climate Change, Colonialism and Human Rights in Greenland” in Petra Butler and Jean-Pierre Gauci (ds) Human Rights in Small States (Springer)
- Miriam Cullen, “Climate Resilience and the Cook Islands' Relationship of Free Association with Aotearoa / New Zealand” (2023) DIIS Policy Brief, also available in Western Greenlandic.
- Steph Matti, Miriam Cullen, Uta Reichardt and Andrea Vigfúsdóttir, “Planned Relocation due to Landslide-Triggered Tsunami Risk in Recently Deglaciated Areas” (2023) International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 86.
Bachelor and masters theses:
- Benedicte Sofie Holm, “Empowering Resilience: Towards a Human Rights-Based Approach to Implementing Culturally Sensitive Disaster Risk Management in Greenland” (defended 2023)
- Gry Lykke Schmidt, “Peoples and Power: Implementing Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of Indigenous Peoples in the Legal Framework on Energy Resource Exploitation in Greenland” (defended 2023)
- Elise Juul, “Climate change and Colonialism: Human rights-protection of Greenlandic children” (defended 2022)
- Podcast interview with KlimaFokus, June 2023, “Det Globale Klima”
- “Free Association - How are Pacific, Caribbean, and North-Atlantic experiences relevant for Greenland?”, 24 May, Ilisimatusarfik / University of Greenland. In collaboration with the Danish Institute for International Studies and Ilisimatusarfik / the University of Greenland. Miriam Cullen spoke about Aotearoa / New Zealand’s relationship of Free Association with the Cook Islands and Niue and potential independence for Tokelau. Read the related policy paper here (also available in western Greenlandic).
- Presentation 4 May 2023 14.30 to 15.30: Miriam Cullen, “Law, Rights and Nature”, auditorium, Ilisimatusarfik / University of Greenland, Nuuk
- Podcast interview Dec 2022: Juristeriet “Kolonitidens juridiske strukturer spøger i klimakrisen” (in English)
- Feature article (Danish) 2021: Dansk Frie Forskningsfond ”Nyt forskningsprojekt vil udfylde huller i vores viden om klimatilpasning” (in Danish)
Nivikka Witjes, Project Leader, Siu-Tsiu, Kalaallit Nunaat / Greenland
Elsa Stamatopolou, Director, Indigenous Peoples’ Program, Columbia University
Helle Porsdam, Professor, Copenhagen University, UNESCO Chair in Cultural Rights, Professor, University of Copenhagen
Rachael Lorna Johnstone, Professor, University of Akureyri, Iceland
Alberto Costi, Professor, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
Climate Change and the Protection of Indigenous Peoples Under International Law in the Overseas Colonized Territories of the State is funded by Independent Research Fund Denmark.
Amount: DKK 2.876.423,00
Period: 01-01-2022 – 30-12-2024
PI Associate Professor
South Campus, Building 6A-4-12
DK 2300 Copenhagen S
Phone: +45 35 32 33 36 Miriam.Cullen@jur.ku.dk