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ECHR Grand Chamber Judgment: Switzerland violates Convention rights

Published:

Strasbourg, France - September 18, 2009: European Court of Human Rights building in Strasbourg, France. ECHR is a international court established by the European Convention on Human Rights.

The ECHR has delivered a landmark ruling in Verein KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz and Others v. Switzerland (application no. 53600/20).

The Court determined that the Swiss Government had breached several European Convention on Human Rights provisions. Specifically, it violated the right to respect for private and family life as outlined in Article 8. It unanimously concluded a breach of the right of access to the Court as per Article 6-1.

Consequently, Switzerland was deemed to have failed in fulfilling its obligations under the Convention to address climate change adequately, notably by falling short of targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Swiss authorities’ dismissal of the complaints raised by the Swiss Senior Climate Women lacked sufficient justification.

The Swiss Senior Women argued that their nation’s lack of action on climate change encroached upon their human rights. They expressed concerns regarding the impacts of global warming on their well-being and health, underscoring their heightened vulnerability to climate-related crises, particularly in relation to heatwaves. They asserted that Swiss authorities were not taking adequate measures to mitigate climate change. This case marked the first instance of a climate change-related matter heard by the European Court of Human Rights, deliberated upon by the Grand Chamber on 29 March 2023.

The Grand Chambers’ ruling will significantly impact States’ human rights obligations in the context of climate change worldwide.

Jessica Simor KC was instructed by the Association of Swiss Climate Senior Women and represented more than 2000 retired Swiss women.

Jessica was part of a significant international legal team comprising Cordelia Bähr, Marc Willers KC, Raphaël Mahaim, Martin Looser, Louise Fournier, and Richard Harvey.

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