United States: IACHR and REDESCA Express Solidarity with the Victims of the Wildfires in Hawaii

August 18, 2023

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights (REDESCA) express their solidarity with the victims of the devastating wildfires that are severely affecting the state of Hawaii in the United States, and express their concern about the occurrence of these events, which are related to multifaceted factors, including climate change and its impact on the weather conditions that severely affect Hawaii.

Over the past weeks, the state of Hawaii has experienced a series of devastating wildfires, fueled by extremely dry weather conditions and high winds, resulting in the deaths of at least 100 people in Maui County and a significant number of injuries. These fires have also devastated vast areas of land, destroying homes, infrastructure, and valuable natural ecosystems.

Given the scale of the disaster, the IACHR and REDESCA urge the authorities to continue taking the necessary measures to protect the lives, health, and integrity of the people affected by these fires and to guarantee medical care and access to basic services (particularly drinking water, sanitation, shelter, and food) for those who have been displaced or affected by this tragedy.

The IACHR and REDESCA also emphasize that it is the duty of States to reduce the risks of the effects of climate emergencies such as forest fires from a human rights perspective, recognizing that these events can have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable communities. They also note that it is essential and urgent for States to address the long-term impacts of fires and their link to the climate crisis, applying the standards and recommendations of Resolution 3/2021 on Climate Emergency: Scope of Inter-American Human Rights Obligations.

REDESCA is an autonomous office of the IACHR that was specifically created to support the IACHR in fulfilling its mandate to promote and protect economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights in the Americas.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 187/23

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