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“A deadly undertaking” – UN experts urge governments to protect environmental defenders

Speaking ahead of World Environment Day on Sunday 5 June, Special Rapporteur John Knox joined with Michel Forst, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, and Victoria Tauli Corpuz, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, in issuing a joint statement emphasizing that protecting environmental rights defenders is crucial to protect the environment and the human rights that depend on it.

“This is no time for complacency”

Today, Special Rapporteur Knox issued a press statement stating that “The first test of States’ commitment to the principles of the Paris Agreement will be next week,” when government representatives meet in Bonn to negotiate the terms of a new international climate mechanism to transfer funds from developed to developing countries for projects that contribute to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and support sustainable development.  “This is no time for complacency,” he said. “The fact that 177 States have signed the Paris Agreement in less than a month is very welcome news, but the hard work of safeguarding the environment and human rights is just now beginning.”

Statement on the situation of Gustavo Castro Soto

On March 10, the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, Professor John Knox, joined the statement of Michel Forst, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, calling on the Government of Honduras to ensure the safety and protection of Gustavo Castro Soto, Mexican defender, who was hurt during the assassination […] Continue reading »

The Right to Sanitation

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to water and sanitation, Léo Heller, and the Chair of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Waleed Sadi, issued a joint statement praising the UN General Assembly resolution, adopted by consensus on 17 December, recognizing that ‘the human right to sanitation entitles everyone, without […] Continue reading »

Joint Statement by UN Special Procedure Mandate Holders

All 78 UN mandate holders, representing 41 thematic mandates and 14 country mandates, joined on Human Rights Day, 2015, to issue a joint statement promoting universal ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights during 2016, the fiftieth anniversary of their adoption in 1966. […] Continue reading »

Burning down the house

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, released a powerful statement today urging governments to take strong action to address climate change. In part, he stated: “Given the stakes, urgent, effective and ambitious action is certainly a moral imperative. But it is also a legal obligation. Here’s why. First, we now know that […] Continue reading »

Statement on human rights and climate change

The Special Rapporteur issued a press release today reminding all parties attending the Paris Climate Conference that “States’ human rights obligations also encompass climate change,” and urging them to adopt a rights perspective in tackling environmental issues.  “I call on Governments to honour their human rights obligations as they negotiate the climate agreement,” the expert stated. “Even including a reference to human rights in the agreement itself would be of great symbolic and practical importance.”

Joint statement on Rio Doce disaster

Two United Nations independent experts on environment and toxic waste today called on the Government of Brazil and relevant businesses to take immediate action to protect the environment and health of communities at risk of exposure to toxic chemicals in the wake of the catastrophic collapse of a tailing dam on 5 November 2015. “This […] Continue reading »

UN experts applaud ECLAC negotiation

On the eve of a precedent-setting negotiation, 15 UN human rights experts joined to express their strong support for the efforts by governments in Latin America and the Caribbean to agree on a regional instrument on rights of access to information, participation, and justice in environmental matters.  This negotiation, which will resume 27-29 October in Panama City, is one of the most important steps ever taken to protect and promote environmental democracy at the international level, and it will provide a model for such steps in other regions and countries.  The experts encouraged the negotiators to adopt an instrument in the form of a legally binding treaty.   The full statement is available here.

“The World Bank is a Human Rights-Free Zone”

The Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, has issued a report highly critical of the World Bank, which he states has “historically been averse to acknowledging and taking account of human rights,” and whose current approach to human rights is “incoherent, counterproductive and unsustainable.”  He states:  “For most purposes, the World Bank is currently a human rights-free zone,” and “In its operational policies, in particular, it treats human rights more like an infectious disease than universal values and obligations.”   He will present his report to the UN General Assembly on October 23.  The full text of the press release is available here.