Panel at Asia Pro Bono Conference by Roya Institute of Global Justice

Panel on “Climate apartheid, Corona pandemic, Poverty; The legal community’s mission in dealing with these phenomena” at Asia Pro Bono Conference by Roya Institute of Global Justice

The team of Roya Institute of Global Justice conducted a 90-minute panel at the Asia Pro Bono Conference on 25th September 2020 on the topic “Climate apartheid, Corona pandemic, Poverty; The legal community’s mission in dealing with these phenomena”.

Panel opening by Dr. Seyed Masoud Noori

The panel began with Dr. Seyed Masoud Noori (Founder and Executive Director of Roya Institute of Global Justice) giving an introduction about his vision behind establishing Roya Institute and how pro bono services can play an active role for the people affected by Climate Apartheid and the role which Roya Institute can play in such a case. He explained that despite the efforts of human rights defenders, respect for human rights and dignity is not at an acceptable level and the situation has worsened after the pandemic and with this in mind he started the Institution with his colleagues. He further goes on to mention that one of the key areas of practice of the Institution is Sustainable Environment. He mentioned about the need to get more organized and work together in order to save the planet.

This was followed by playing video of Prof. Philip Alston, who has served as the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights from 2014-2020 and in his 2019 annual report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, he, for the first time, used the term apartheid climate. Prof. Alston explained about the concept of Climate Apartheid to the participants.

Click here to watch the video of Philip Alston’s message about climate apartheid, which was also presented in the panel.

Then we called out three Global Representatives from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan respectively to talk about their country and Climate Apartheid.

Mrinalini Banerjee- India

Ms. Mrinalini Banerjee who is an Assistant Professor (Research) at Gujarat National Law University in India and also a global representative at Roya Institute. She explained how there has been a mass movement which has happened because of climate apartheid. She further mentions that rich people are contributors to this, and it is the poor who is suffering. She further mentions about the cyclone Amphan which recently hit two states of India i.e. West Bengal and Orrisa and how the poor people have suffered most.
Food Insecurity, forced migration, diseases, increase in death rate and rise in price of goods are the few effects of corona and which will further increase due to climate change. She further explained the situation being faced in India due to Covid. She emphasized the need of state responsibility at this hour and how individuals have come forward to help those in need.

Alida Binte Saqi – Bangladesh

Ms. Saqi is a socio- legal researcher with 7 years’ experience of field work and she is also Global Representative of Roya Institute from Bangladesh.
She also mentioned about migration, loss of jobs and stated that Bangladesh has also faced Climate Apartheid and it has become more visible specifically in the times of this pandemic.

She stated that legal community is working towards this and there are many relief programs which have been set up. She concluded that what is needed is to create awareness about it and proper information needs to be given and legal community has to work with the community members. She further suggested the need to sensitize students who can further sensitize others and also train the community leaders. Also, Street law can play a crucial role for this.

Angbeen Atif Mirza – Pakistan

Ms. Angbeen Atif Mirza is an Assistant Professor of Practice at the Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law. She is also Global Representative of Roya Institute from Pakistan.
She stated that most vulnerable community in Pakistan are the migrant workers who have moved to urban areas in search of livelihood and also the impact of Covid on the loss of jobs for those people who were already suffering from Climate Apartheid. She further stated that public interest litigations have been filed by people and also by children through their guardian and a lot of good work has been done at macro level but at the micro level the people who are being affected do not have access to their rights that they need immediately and it is more like a justice emergency and it is also important is to start talking about the issue of Climate Apartheid.

Zahra Jannat

She stated that Climate change has more harmful effect than racial apartheid in South Africa. Through street law programs awareness needs to be created about this kind of apartheid. It is important to make people in developed countries aware about the impact which global warming, consumption of resources, their lifestyle is creating upon other people and they should be encouraged to change their lifestyle. Action should be taken to eliminate inequality throughout the globe. People of the developing counties need to know that they can control the causes through their smart choices. She further stated the volunteers need to build effective communication and mutual trust with people and merely believing that these people have rights is not enough.

Ramin Yazdan Shenas

He talked about the capacities of cyberspace to provide clinical services like providing services to more vulnerable people and taking assistance from professionals who do not have a lot of time for physical presence in clinical, creating FAQs based on general legal information and around the clock service. Specifically, during the situation like Covid-19, such online pro bono services can replace online services.
Cyber Space though can have certain disadvantages like security and efficiency and hence there is a need to create a comprehensive platform.

After this Ms. Gabriela Christian- Hare, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Pro Bono Centre talked about one of their new publications, “Pro Bono Guide to the Climate Crisis.” The guide contains 15 different activities pro bono lawyers can undertake to make a difference to climate change, with case studies we have gathered from around the world.

Dr. Seyed Masoud Noori came forward to sum up the entire session.

The panel was moderated by Ms. Mahak Rathee (Global Representative of Roya Institute of Global Justice.