The Special Rapporteur’s October 2017 newsletter is now available. It requests comments on draft Guidelines on Human Rights and the Environment, which the basic human rights obligations of States on environmental matters, as they have been clarified by human rights bodies. It also describes recent and upcoming activities of the Special Rapporteur, including an expert meeting and public consultation on the Guidelines in Geneva on October 17-18, a conference on human rights and the environment in Mexico City, on 6 November, and a workshop in Bogotá, Colombia, on 8-9 November, on environmental human rights defenders.
The Special Rapporteur undertook a country visit to Mongolia from 19 to 27 September. He discussed a wide range of human rights and environmental issues with government officials and members of civil society, including issues relating to mining, air pollution in the capital, water pollution, and the effects of climate change. In a statement and press release at the conclusion of the visit, he emphasized the importance of effective implementation of laws on public participation and information. He will present his final report on the visit to the Human Rights Council in March 2018.
The twenty-fourth newsletter, released on August 16, is now available. The newsletter describes several recent events, including: an expert meeting and public consultation on children’s rights and the environment, in Geneva on 22-23 June; the negotiation by 22 Latin American and Caribbean countries of a new agreement on environmental access rights, which the Special Rapporteur attended on 31 July-1 August, in Buenos Aires; and a conference at the University of Oxford on 20 June on forest defenders, organized by N1M (“not 1 more”).
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.