Tessa Khan
2018 Awardee

Tessa Khan co-founded the Climate Litigation Network, which supports efforts using the law as a tool to dramatically increase national climate mitigation ambition. The Network supports litigation and movement building as mutually reinforcing elements of a broader effort to bring unprecedented pressure on national governments to take action on climate. Her focus on international human rights law presents a novel, potentially game-changing approach to climate litigation.

We are thrilled to support Tessa’s work. International human rights litigation has been incredibly effective in pushing national level action for decades and we are hopeful that Tessa’s multidisciplinary approach, in concert with the work of her partners, will help pave the way for action on climate mitigation across the globe.

With Tessa’s deep background in human rights law, advocacy, and movement-building, and her remarkable ability to forge strong connections with partners, the Climate Litigation Network is well-poised to accelerate legal accountability for government inaction on climate change. We are excited for the fresh perspective she brings to instigating climate mitigation breakthroughs.

Locally driven strategic litigation is a powerful vehicle for compelling governments to protect their citizens from serious structural harms and inequalities.

“Tessa understands how strategic litigation works. She understands that really successful litigation can’t happen in a vacuum – that cases need to come from broad-based social movements and campaigns that are developed around the case. This is where her methodology differs from other litigators in the space. In putting real people on the ground at the heart of climate change litigation, Tessa’s work is particularly exciting.” — Andrea Coomber, Director at JUSTICE

Tessa has provided high-level advice to national governments and institutions on their human rights obligations, including being commissioned to write expert papers on the obligations of governments in the context of climate change and sustainable development. Tessa has worked on a range of international human rights and humanitarian litigation, including successful actions in the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in the Office of the Prosecutor in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and in Asia where Tessa persuaded multiple National Human Rights Commissions to formally commit to the extra-territorial protection of human rights. Those commitments are enshrined in the Bangkok Declaration on Extraterritorial Obligations.