On July 31-August 1, the Special Rapporteur spoke in Buenos Aires, at the negotiation by Latin American and Caribbean countries towards a new agreement on environmental access rights, including rights to information, participation and remedy. He praised the dedication and openness of the participants and encouraged them to complete a strong agreement as soon as they can. He emphasized that this is one of the most important international negotiations in the last two decades, in human rights as well as the environment.
On June 22, the Special Rapporteur participated in a side event at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, on the effects of climate change and environmental pollutants on children’s rights. The moderator was Nazhat Shameem Khan, Ambassador of the Republic of Fiji to the United Nations, and the other speakers included Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Marilena Viviani of UNICEF, Benjamin Schachter of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Jonas Schubert of Terre des Hommes International Federation.
On June 9, the Special Rapporteur released his twenty-third newsletter, which describes his trips in the previous months to Brazil, Geneva, and Uruguay, and provides a link to his statement on World Environment Day.
On June 8, Professor Knox joined the UN Special Rapporteurs on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, and on human rights defenders, Michel Forst, as well as the Inter-American Commission Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli, to issue a joint statement denouncing attacks on indigenous and environmental rights in Brazil.
On June 5th, the Special Rapporteur issued a statement for World Environment Day emphasizing that a healthy environment is necessary for the full enjoyment of human rights, and calling attention to the accelerating loss of biodiversity on which healthy ecosystems depend.
On May 22 and 23, the Special Rapporteur participated in a regional judicial colloquium in Brasilia on constitutional rights and the environment. The colloquium was co-sponsored by a number of partners, including UN Environment, the Organization of American States, the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, and Brazilian bar and judicial organizations, and it was hosted at the Brazilian Senate. Participants included judges from many states within the Latin American and Caribbean region, who exchanged detailed presentations on lessons and challenges within their jurisdictions. This is the second in a series of these regional colloquiums; the Special Rapporteur is working with UN Environment on a third next year in Asia.
On May 20-21, I had the honor to participate in the second meeting of the Global Judicial Institute for the Environment, a new organization of judges from around the world who are coordinating efforts to share information and experiences on environmental issues. More information about the creation of the Institute is available here. On May 19, I also had the pleasure of speaking at the University of São Paulo School of Law on a panel addressing issues of human rights and the environment internationally and in Brazil.
From 24 to 28 April, the Special Rapporteur conducted a country visit to Uruguay, where he met with government officials and members of civil society to address the progress and challenges Uruguay faces with human rights related to environmental protection. He issued a statement at the close of his visit, which praised Uruguay’s steps to move towards almost-complete reliance on renewable energy. He suggested more public participation in environmental decision-making and the creation of a new “environmental ombudsperson” position that could serve as a focus for environmental complaints. He will present a report on Uruguay to the Human Rights Council in March 2018.
On March 24, the Special Rapporteur issued his most recent newsletter describing recent activities relating to the mandate, including his report on biodiversity, his presentation to the Human Rights Council, and his upcoming visit to Uruguay.
An article in the World Post describes the report of the Special Rapporteur on biodiversity and human rights, which he presented to the Human Rights Council earlier this month. In the article, Professor Knox is quoted as saying: “Biodiversity is really necessary for the full enjoyment of rights to food, water, health — the right to live a full and happy life. Without the services that healthy ecosystems provide across the board, we really can’t enjoy a whole range of human rights. And healthy ecosystems really depend on biodiversity.”