In this op-ed for the Guardian, published on World Environment Day 2016, Special Rapporteurs John Knox, Michel Forst, and Victoria Tauli Corpuz write that “The enjoyment of a vast range of human rights, including rights to life, health, food, water, and housing, depend on a healthy and sustainable environment. Today, on World Environment Day, let us remember that those who work to protect the environment are not only environmentalists – they are human rights defenders. And they are increasingly at risk.” The Rapporteurs call on governments and businesses to do more to protect environmental human rights defenders and to hold accountable those who threaten, harass, and murder them.
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This article by Justin Catanoso describes the climate talks in Bonn, Germany, which address (among other things) a new mechanism to direct funding towards clean energy projects in developing countries. The current mechanism, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), has supported more than 7,000 projects since 2006. Some of its largest projects, including dams, have been criticized […]
In this commentary published in Mongabay, Peter Bosshard, the Interim Executive Director of International Rivers, writes that indigenous lands are being plundered and indigenous activists are being targeted when they stand up for their rights. He quotes Special Rapporteur John Knox as stating that indigenous peoples who get in the way of development projects “are considered almost expendable by the powers that be.” Bosshard continues: “Our murdered colleagues from Honduras to Brazil bear witness to this shocking reality.”
This Reuters article describes the effects of climate change on the human rights of people around the world, and explains the calls by the Special Rapporteur and others for the climate negotiators to include a strong reference to human rights in the climate agreement under negotiation. “The climate crisis is a human rights crisis,” said Craig Mokhiber of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. “It needs to be addressed as such, and it needs to start right here in Paris.”
This Reuters article describes the call by the Special Rapporteur for the climate negotiators to include references to human rights in the new climate agreement. “The Paris Agreement is vital to the protection of human rights of present and future generations, in every country of the world. [It] should recognise that fact,” he stated.
This Dow Jones article describes the decision by the Government of Brazil to sue Vale SA, BHP Billiton Ltd. and their joint venture Samarco Mineração SA in response to the catastrophic dam failure that contaminated the Rio Doce. It also reports on the admission by Vale that there were toxic elements in the river. It […]
This Dow Jones article describes the joint statement by the Special Rapporteurs on toxic waste and the environment on the enormous quantities of mud unleashed by the massive dam failure on the Rio Doce in Brazil earlier in November. It states that the U.N. special rapporteurs received their information about tests indicating high levels of […]
On July 14, 2015, Special Rapporteur John Knox published a short essay for openDemocracy.net about the interdependence of human rights and environmental protection. The essay explains that individuals can only fully enjoy their human rights, including their rights to health and life, if they live in a healthy natural environment, and that the exercise of human rights, such as rights to information and participation, facilitates environmental protection.
On June 10, 2015, Megan Rowling wrote an article for Reuters that described poor countries’ push at the UN climate talks for a new global climate change deal that will address losses caused by rising seas and worsening weather. Poor countries have even suggested that wealthy polluting countries pay compensation for the impacts of that pollution felt around the globe. Ms. Rowling quoted UN Special Rapporteur for human rights and the environment, John Knox, as saying that a 2 degree temperature increase would result in “a grave effect on the enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, including rights to life and health.”
On May 21, 2015, five years after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, John Knox and Manish Bapna wrote an op-ed for Thomson Reuters about the increased need for public access to environmental information, public participation in environmental decision-making, and enforcement of environmental laws. Access, participation, and justice, Knox and Bapna say, create the basis for environmental democracy and help ensure the protection of human rights. They describe the World Resources Institute’s recently released Environmental Democracy Index, which evaluates 70 countries’ environmental laws based on standards set by the UN Environmental Programme.