Africa Rights Talk Podcast Series

In conversation with Zanele Fengu, Mosupatsila Nare and Samrawit Getaneh

The episode was hosted by Samrawit Getaneh (HRDA class of 2016, Ethiopia), who welcomed and engaged in a conversation with Zanele Fengu and Mosupatsila Nare (HRDA class of 2022, South Africa and Zimbabwe, respectively). The speakers highlighted that millions of Africans are displaced each year due to climate change related factors and the figures are growing by the millions each year, making the situation grave. Displacements are occurring owing to disasters including floods, droughts, windstorms and wildfires raging across the continent. Additionally, displacements are also occurring due to climate action that aims to conserve carbon sinks without using a rights based approach, thereby displacing indigenous communities from their lands. Various regional legal instruments and policy documents are key in tackling climate displacement and the various challenges that arise with it, one instrument among many is the the Kampala Convention, the first ever legally binding instrument in the protection and assistance of IDPs in Africa. On the other hand, a particularly worrying reality is the potentially devastating effects of a deficient legal system which fails to adequately address the impact of climate change; particularly the lack of consensus on the legal position of climate refugees which leaves this demographic at risk of an array of human rights violations. Hence the need to effectively implement existing laws such as the Kampala convention, but also the imperative to extend protection to climate refugees, was highlighted in the discussion. The speakers concluded by noting the interrelatedness of various challenges posed by the climate crisis and the need for an “all hands on deck” approach in using human rights law to tackle the problems of climate displaced persons.

Zanele Fengu has a keen interest in all things human rights, but particularly refugee law and climate justice. Zanele currently works as a legal researcher at Corruption Watch, the South African chapter of Transparency International. Her work focuses on land and mining rights, as well as governance and leadership.
Mosupatsila Nare is a human rights lawyer. She has experience in the African Human Rights system having served at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 2023. Currently she works as a Programs Manager at Women’s Institute for Leadership Development, a Zimbabwean Civil Society Organisation focusing on women’s empowerment and active participation in leadership and governance processes including climate justice.
Samrawit Getaneh is a Senior Child Rights Protection Officer at the African Committee. She is particularly interested in mechanisms of human rights protection, the protection of the rights of vulnerable groups and minority groups, the nexus between human rights and development as well as climate change and human rights. She is also a current PhD researcher at the University of the Western Cape.

This conversation was recorded on 16 May 2024.

The Centre for Human Rights is the regional headquarters of the Global Campus Africa, which comprises 13 partner universities across Africa and forms part of the broader Global Campus of Human Rights, which is a network of over 100 universities in eight regions with the vision and mission ‘to foster new generations of human rights defenders contributing to a world in which human dignity, equality, freedom, security, sustainable development, democracy and the rule of law are realised.’ We acknowledge the financial support from the European Union through the Global Campus for Human Rights.

This is a podcast series brought to you by the HRDA Alumni Task Force on Climate Justice and Rights of Future Generations in Africa, hosted under the Africa Rights Talk – Centre for Human Rights podcast. The initial aim is to produce a limited series of six podcasts that form a coherent whole, introducing some of the main challenges related to climate change and human rights in Africa. We take this opportunity to acknowledge the financial support of the European Union through the Global Campus for Human Rights.



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