PBI comments on ‘Human rights and the global water crisis’ report at the UN Human Rights Council

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On March 10, Peace Brigades International presented to the 46th Regular Session Human Rights Council that took place in Geneva, Switzerland.

We were responding to the report Human rights and the global water crisis: water pollution, water scarcity and water-related disasters by David Boyd, the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment.

Ribka Kenelak, a West Papuan activist and member of the Indigenous Walak tribe who works with the NGO Yapelin, spoke on behalf of PBI.

Kenelak stated:

PBI welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the global water crisis.

We echo his concerns regarding the impact of extractive industries and hydro-power projects on water supply, quality and the environment.

In Indonesia, human rights defenders have highlighted how large-scale infrastructure projects negatively impact access to water for rural and Indigenous communities.

In Colombia and Guatemala, environmental defenders experience threats, physical attacks and killings due to their work.

For example, challenging water contamination in Putumayo and Magdalena Medio and promoting access to clean water, which has been impeded by industrial sugar farms in Retahuleu.

Both countries have yet to ratify the Escazu Agreement.

In Honduras, all proposed hydroelectric dams are located on Indigenous territories, where individuals defending rivers such as the Guapinol and Gualcarque have been subjected to threats, criminalization and harassment.

In Mexico, crimes such as the murder of Samir Flores, an opponent of the Comprehensive Morelos Project, are treated with impunity.

We are deeply concerned by the threats experienced by environmental defenders at the hands of both State and non-State actors and urge for their protection.

The video of Kenelak’s presentation can be seen here (Chapter 66, 01:41:51).

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