PBI-Canada calls on Canada to back the Escazú Agreement to uphold Indigenous rights and protect environmental defenders
Peace Brigades International first endorsed the Escazú Agreement in September 2018 as “a means to guarantee a safe environment in which individuals, groups and organizations that promote and defend human rights related to the environment can act without facing threats, restrictions, attacks or danger.”
PBI-Colombia, PBI-Mexico and PBI-Canada have amplified this with further statements in support of the Escazú Agreement.
In this article published on December 9, Graciela Martinez, Amnesty International’s Mexico City-based campaigner for human rights defenders in the Americas, writes: “The Escazú Agreement is innovative, for one thing because it is the first binding instrument of its kind in the world to include provisions on environmental defenders.”
She adds: “The agreement recognizes the importance of such people’s work and obliges states to ensure their protection by establishing guidelines on appropriate and effective measures that can be taken to ensure they are able to work in safety.”
Martinez further notes: “[While the Agreement] does not explicitly refer to the right to free, prior and informed consultation as recognized in International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169, the two instruments are clearly complementary.”
She then highlights: “The right to access information on environmental matters, key to the Escazú Agreement, is part of the informed consent of indigenous and tribal peoples, as is effective participation through legitimate representation and the incorporation and facilitation of traditional decision-making methods.”
Martinez notes that while the Mexican Senate approved its ratification just one month ago, it has yet to deposit the instrument with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to make it official.
She also writes that Honduras, which suffers the highest per capita number of murders of environmental defenders, has not even signed it.
Additionally, there are reports of some progress with the agreement in Colombia despite early opposition from the Duque government, while the process of its ratification in Guatemala has stagnated under President Alejandro Giammattei.
More than two-thirds of the 212 land and environmental defenders killed last year were based in Latin America.
And as the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate agreement approaches this weekend, we remember that on average four land and environmental defenders have been killed every week since COP21 in December 2015.
Peace Brigades International-Canada continues to call on the Canadian government to both publicly and through diplomatic channels back the ratification and full implementation of the Escazú Agreement.