Joint statement on crackdown on Acción Ecológica

The Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, together with the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of assembly and association, on freedom of opinion and expression, on the situation of human rights defenders, and on the rights of indigenous peoples, issued a statement criticizing the Government of Ecuador for ordering the closure of Acción Ecológica’, an NGO that supports environmental and indigenous rights. We urged the Ecuadorian authorities to reverse the decision and reform the legislation it is using to dissolve the groups, which it has used in the past for dissolving groups such as ‘Pachamama’ and the ‘Unión Nacional de Educadores’.

Joint Statement of Special Procedures on Human Rights Day

Here is the joint statement of the UN independent experts and special rapporteurs on Human Rights Day, 2016: “The greatest achievement of the international community since the end of World War II has been the construction of an international human rights system based upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted 68 years […] Continue reading »

Statement on Standing Rock protesters

Maina Kiai, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, issued a statement criticizing U.S. security forces for using excessive force against the protesters from the Standing Rock Sioux and many other indigenous peoples, as well as other sympathizers, who are opposing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  The Special Rapporteur emphasized that: “The right to freedom of peaceful assembly is an individual right, and it cannot be taken away indiscriminately or en masse due to the violent actions of a few.  The use of violence by some protesters should not be used as a justification to nullify the peaceful assembly rights of everyone else.”

Statement on the conclusion of mission to Madagascar

The Special Rapporteur issued this statement (ici en francais) on the conclusion of his mission to Madagascar, during which he met with government ministers and officials, civil society organizations, academics, agencies of the United Nations, and the newly established National Human Rights Commission. It addresses a number of issues raised during the visit, including the effects of climate change, the importance of protecting environmental human rights defenders, illegal trafficking in rosewood and other endangered species, mining conflicts, and community-centered conservation of Madagascar’s unique and beautiful ecosystems. A report on the visit will be released in March 2017.

Statement on Dakota Access Pipeline

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe in the United States, joined by many other indigenous peoples and others, have been opposing and peacefully protesting the construction of a crude oil pipeline because of concerns that it could adversely affect their drinking water. In September, Vicki Tauli-Corpuz, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, issued a statement — endorsed by John Knox and other special rapporteurs — calling on the United States to halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, consult with the affected communities in good faith, and ensure their free and informed consent prior to the approval of the project.

“Make human rights the priority in all conservation efforts”

“Effective and sustainable conservation requires respect for human rights, today said two United Nations experts on environment and indigenous peoples rights, ahead of the largest global forum for the adoption of conservation policies on protected areas: the World Conservation Congress (WCC), which will take place from 1 to 10 September in Honolulu, USA. “The escalating […] Continue reading »

Report on environmental human rights defenders

Michel Forst, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, has published a report to the General Assembly dedicated, in his words, “to the heroic activists who have braved the dangers facing them and defended the rights of their communities to a safe and healthy environment.” The report describes the epidemic of violence and harassment against environmental defenders around the world, and sets out recommendations for empowering and protecting them.

“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.

“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.

May 2016 newsletter

The Special Rapporteur issued his eighteenth newsletter on May 23.  It emphasizes the importance of including environmental and social safeguards in the climate finance mechanism being negotiated the following week in Bonn.  It also describes the trip by Professor Knox in April to South Africa, where he participated in a conference on “New Frontiers in Global Environmental Constitutionalism” at North-West University, and a judicial workshop on applying human and constitutional rights to environmental issues, which was held at the University of Pretoria.