How a disagreement over human rights language almost derailed the climate change treaty.

Before world leaders finally signed the hugely important, comprehensive agreement on ending climate change at the COP21 conference in Paris, there was an unusual dispute.

It was a small thing, but one that threatened to derail the negotiations and had seemingly little to do with the environment.



Climate change activists demonstrate at the COP21 conference in Paris. Photo by Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images.

Three countries requested that language about human rights and gender equality be removed from the operative part of the agreement before they signed.

Even weirder was the combination of countries making that request: Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Norway. Norway was ranked the second-most gender-equal country in the 2015 Global Gender Gap Index, while the United States came in at #28. Saudi Arabia ranked near the bottom, at 134th.

According to Human Rights Watch, an early draft of the COP21 agreement included a commitment for countries to respect both human rights and gender equality as part of their plans to end climate change.

By Dec. 12, which was intended to be the last day of COP21, these three countries voiced their opposition to including that language in Article 2, which is the part of the agreement which states its purpose.

While only three countries spoke out explicitly against including human rights language in Article 2, others — including various European Union countries — did so by not taking a public position, said Katharina Rall, research fellow at Human Rights Watch.

"I think sometimes silence on an issue like this can also be interpreted by others, and has been interpreted by others, as opposition," Rall told Upworthy.

The language matters because protecting human rights as part of addressing climate change is hugely important.

According to the Huffington Post's Keith Peterman, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, speaking at a COP21 press briefing, asserted everyone's right to life, food, clean water, sanitation, and health.

A changing climate directly inhibits access to these basic human rights.

As Negendra Kumar Kumal, a representative of the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities, told the Huffington Post, despite the fact that her tribe is "not the main contributor to emissions ... we are experiencing unpredictable weather [including] changing snowfall and rain patterns."

Indigenous activists demonstrated at the COP21 conference in Paris. Photo by Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images.

A changing climate also affects women disproportionately, especially in developing nations.

"If you undermine poor livelihoods, who has to pick up the pieces? Who has to put food on the table? Who has to go further in drought for firewood?" former Irish President Mary Robinson pointed out in an interview with Democracy Now.


Representatives of indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Amazon at COP21. Photo by Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images.

In the end, a compromise was reached. The disputed language is in the preamble.

Instead of including the language about human rights and gender equality in Article 2, it was kept in the preamble of the final agreement, with indigenous rights, women's rights, and the rights of other vulnerable groups being mentioned specifically.

And on Dec. 13, the historic agreement was signed.

In the final version, the preamble recognizes countries' legal obligations to their citizens based on human rights law, which is important when it comes to addressing climate change. That's a really good thing.

But not everyone is thrilled by the compromise. Including the language in the preamble instead of in the actual body of the agreement weakens it.

"It's more difficult to make an argument that there is an obligation to implement the preamble as such, without reference to any other article," Rall said.

Still, Rall clarified, because the whole agreement is a "binding international treaty," the preamble still has "legal meaning."

Guaranteeing human rights shouldn't be so controversial.

Why do international agreements concerning basic human rights need so much negotiation? And, most frustrating of all, when we're this close to a binding, universal agreement on climate change, why hold up this progress on something that should be as uncontroversial as human rights and equality for all?

"It's not enough to just write it into the preamble, and say: 'OK, now we're done with this. We've dealt with this question,'" cautioned Rall. She says that various indigenous groups were unhappy with the ultimate result.

Still, she's optimistic. She hopes these groups are able to follow up on the agreement in their own countries, as well as globally.

The least we can do is help apply that pressure.

Terence Power / TikTok

A video of a busker in Dublin, Ireland singing "You've Got a Friend in Me" to a young boy with autism is going viral because it's just so darn adorable. The video was filmed over a year ago by Terence Power, the co-host of the popular "Talking Bollox Podcast."

It was filmed before face masks were required, so you can see the boy's beautiful reaction to the song.

Power uploaded it to TikTok because he had just joined the platform and had no idea the number of lives it would touch. "The support on it is unbelievable. I posted it on my Instagram a while back and on Facebook and the support then was amazing," he told Dublin Live.

"But I recently made TikTok and said I'd share it on that and I'm so glad I did now!" he continued.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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Social media spats usually end in ugly words or blocking people—unless you're Patton Oswalt.

Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt has made a name for himself off screen as a blunt yet caring, compassionate human. His raw openness after his wife's unexpected passing and his willingness to engage in conversations about depression and dadhood after her death has touched people's hearts and opened people's minds.

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The dark mountains that overlook Provo, Utah were illuminated by a beautiful rainbow-colored "Y" on Thursday night just before 8 pm. The 380-foot-tall "Y" overlooks the campus of Brigham Young University, a private college owned by the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), commonly known as Mormons.

The display was planned by a group of around 40 LGBT students to mark the one-year anniversary of the university sending out a letter clarifying its stance on homosexual behavior.

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