UN Special Rapporteur concerned by no mention of human rights in COP26 work programme on public participation in climate action
On November 6, David R. Boyd, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, tweeted:
This relates to the Glasgow work programme on Action for Climate Empowerment.
Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) is a term adopted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Article 6 of the Convention focuses on six priority areas: education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information, and international cooperation.
The importance of ACE is reflected in other international frameworks such as the Aarhus Convention and the Escazú Agreement.
While the Aarhus Convention was adopted in 1998, the new agreement adopted last month establishes a post for a Special Rapporteur on environmental defenders.
The new agreement outlines the various tools available to the Special Rapporteur for resolving complaints and protecting environmental defenders. They include issuing immediate protection measures, using diplomatic channels, releasing public statements, and bringing urgent cases to relevant human rights bodies for action.
Canada is not a signatory to the Aarhus Convention.
The Escazú Agreement is the first legally binding treaty to include specific provisions to protect environmental defenders.
Article 9 includes the obligation for States to: “guarantee a safe and enabling environment for persons, groups and organizations that promote and defend human rights in environmental matters, so that they are able to act free from threat, restriction and insecurity.”
Article 9 also mandates States to: “prevent, investigate and punish attacks, threats or intimidations that human rights defenders in environmental matters may suffer while exercising the rights set out in the present Agreement.”
Mexico ratified the agreement on January 22 of this year, but neither Guatemala nor Colombia have ratified the agreement. Honduras has not signed it.
Environmental defenders and climate change
The United Nations Human Rights Council passed this resolution in March 2019 that affirms defenders “must be ensured a safe and enabling environment to undertake their work free from hindrance and insecurity, in recognition of their important role in supporting States to fulfil their obligations under the Paris Agreement.”
On November 2, our friends at Global Witness organized a commemoration outside the COP26 summit site in Glasgow to honour the 1,005 land and environmental rights defenders killed since COP21 in Paris.
The land and environmental rights defenders murdered in 2020 includes 65 defenders in Colombia, 30 in Mexico, 17 in Honduras, 13 in Guatemala and 12 in Nicaragua.
On November 6, Boyd joined with defenders in these countries to reflect on environmental rights struggles and COP26. To watch that webinar, including Boyd’s remarks at the 4:45 minute mark, please click here.