In his last report submitted to the United Nations General Assembly, dated 3 August 2016 (A/71/281), the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders refers to the dangers faced by the defenders to a safe and healthy environment. In view of the situation in the region, the Special Rapporteur urges negotiating parties in Latin America and the Caribbean to expedite the conclusion of the regional agreement on Principle 10.
In his report focusing on environmental matters, the Special Rapporteur highlights the crucial role played by environmental human rights defenders in ensuring that development is sustainable, inclusive, non-discriminatory and beneficial for all, and stresses that their empowerment and protection is essential for the protection of the environment. Guaranteeing transparency, access to information, participation in decision-making and access to justice is key.
The Special Rapporteur shows concern for the violence and violation of rights, including killings, attacks, reprisals, intimidation, abuse and enforced disappearance, suffered by environmental human rights defenders around the world, being Latin America of the most hostile regions. At the global level, the extractive industry was the sector with the most violations, followed by land rights, construction projects, development policies, fishing and environmental pollution. According to the Special Rapporteur, the root causes underlying violations are exclusion, power imbalance and impunity.
In his recommendations, the Special Rapporteur calls on all stakeholders to urgently and publicly adopt a zero-tolerance approach to the killings of and violent acts against environmental human rights defenders, and to immediately launch policies and mechanisms to empower and protect them. He further appeals to all actors to document more systematically information on the situation of environmental human rights defenders at risk, especially in countries of concern, with a view to advocating more actionable and effective measures for their protection.
In addition, the Special Rapporteur notes with satisfaction the ongoing negotiations in Latin America and the Caribbean on the application of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and urges the parties to expedite the conclusion of the agreement in the light of the urgency of the situation.