Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bangladesh laying constitutional groundwork to seek climate damages

Ali Sanwar in Reuters Alertnet: Bangladesh looks likely to be the first country to include in its constitution a provision for redressing damage resulting from climate change. The country’s parliament is expected to approve a report by its committee for constitutional reforms that would insert an obligation for the government to act on climate change into Article 15 of the country’s constitution.

The article outlines the state’s obligation to meet the basic necessities of life. The measure could lay the groundwork for the government to impose penalties on individuals or institutions within Bangladesh who are found guilty of contributing to climate-related damages.

The 15-member committee was formed in 2010 in response to an order by the Bangladesh High Court that the constitution be restored to its original 1972 form. The court held that changes by successive military governments had destroyed much of the constitution’s “basic character.”

Hasanul Huq Inu, a member of parliament and of the constitutional reform committee, said that the revised constitution will include an amendment addressing climate change and the environment. Parliament is expected to vote on the reform during its current session. The amendment states, “The state shall take appropriate response measures, including mitigation and adaptation, against anthropogenic-accelerated global-warming-induced climate change and sea-level rise.”

“One of the big achievements so far has been that there is complete consensus among the committee members on the issue,” Inu said….

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