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Union of Swiss Senior Women for Climate Protection v. Swiss Federal Council and Others

Jurisdiction: European Court of Human Rights

Side A: Union of Swiss Senior Women for Climate Protection (Ngo)

Side B: Swiss Federal Council and Others (ECtHR) (Government)

Core objectives: Adequacy of Swiss government's climate change mitigation targets and implementation measures and possible infringement on human rights.

For a summary of the Swiss (Klimaseniorinnen) case, see here

After having exhausted all national remedies available, with the final decision from the Swiss Supreme Court communicated to the parties in May 2020, on November 26, 2020 an association of senior women (Senior Women for Climate Protection Switzerland) took the Swiss government to the European Court of Human Rights because their health is threatened by heat waves made worse by the climate crisis. They also requested the case to be treated under the expenditure procedure pursuant to Article 41 of the Rules of the Court.

The application listed three main complaints: Switzerland's inadequate climate policies violate the women's right life and health under Articles 2 and 8 of the ECHR; the Swiss Federal Supreme Court's rejected their case on arbitrary grounds, in violation of the right to a fair trial under Article 6; and the Swiss authorities and courts did not deal with the content of their complaints, in violation of the right to an effective remedy in Article 13.

The ECtHR preliminary accepted the case and communicated it to the Swiss government on March 25, 2021. The ECtHR gave the case priority status and called on Switzerland to submit a response by July 16, 2021, which was timely filed.

On September 21, 2021, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Swiss Section of the ICJ submitted a third-party intervention providing observations on the effects of climate change on the right to life and the right to respect for private and family life and for the home and the positive obligations of States resulting from these rights, in light of principles of international environmental law, among other issues. The European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHR) also submitted a third-party intervention.

On October 13, 2021, the petitioner replied to the Swiss government's response to the ECtHR, arguing that the Swiss government failed to protect the Applicants' rights to life and private life under Arts. 2 and 8 ECHR, by failing to adopt the necessary legislative and administrative framework to do its share to prevent a global temperature increase of more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

On April 26, 2022, the Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights relinquished jurisdiction in favor of the Grand Chamber of the Court.
The case is now going to be examined by the ECtHR's Grand Chamber of 17 judges on account of the fact that the case raises a serious question affecting the interpretation of the Convention (Art 30 ECHR).
Case documents

from the Grantham Research Institute
from the Grantham Research Institute
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