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U.N. Expert: Biodiversity Is Essential To Human Rights

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.”

“Protecting those who work to defend the environment is a human rights issue”

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.

Mongabay: “Climate negotiators focus on carbon credits, underplay human rights”

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 […] Continue reading »

“In the Crosshairs of Development”

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.”

Paris climate deal must ensure respect for human rights

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.”

Climate talks take a wrong turn on human rights, campaigners say

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.

Brazil to File $5.3 Billion Suit Against Samarco, Owners in Dam Collapse

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 […] Continue reading »

Article on the Rio Doce disaster

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 […] Continue reading »

John Knox’s openDemocracy article on greening human rights

On July 14, 2015, Special Rapporteur John Knox published a short essay for 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.

Poor Countries Call for New Climate Change Deal

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.”