The Treaty Section of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs published today on its web site the certified true copies of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Latin America and the Caribbean, adopted March 4, 2018 in Escazú, Costa Rica, during the ninth meeting of the agreement’s negotiating committee.
In addition to being the first regional environmental agreement, this unprecedented legal instrument is the only treaty to come out of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) and the first in the world to contain specific binding provisions regarding human rights defenders in environmental matters.
According to its Article 1, the agreement’s main objective is “to guarantee the full and effective implementation in Latin America and the Caribbean of the rights of access to environmental information, public participation in the environmental decision-making process and access to justice in environmental matters, and the creation and strengthening of capacities and cooperation, contributing to the protection of the right of every person of present and future generations to live in a healthy environment and to sustainable development.”
As pointed out by Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, at the time of its approval, “this is a visionary, unprecedented agreement, made by and for Latin America and the Caribbean. It reflects our ambitions, priorities and particularities as a region and encompasses fundamental aspects of environmental management and protection in such important matters as the sustainable leveraging of natural resources, the preservation of biodiversity, the struggle against desertification and climate change, and resilient reconstruction after disasters. Focused on the most vulnerable persons and groups of our society, the agreement is a fundamental tool for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and will be a determining factor in making equality, sustained economic growth and sustainable development effective for all persons.”
The Regional Agreement will be open for signature by the 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean as of September 27, 2018 at United Nations Headquarters in New York, coinciding with the organization’s annual General Assembly debate. As of that time, it will be subject to ratification by any countries that sign it. In order for it to enter into force, it will require 11 States Party.