Glasgow decision text makes no reference to deadly situation for environmental human rights defenders

Published by Brent Patterson on

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COPINH tweet: The image of Lenca environmental rights defender Berta Caceres is projected in Glasgow. Caceres was killed in March 2016, just months after COP21.

On Saturday November 6, Peace Brigades International convened this webinar with six frontline environmental defenders from Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Mexico and Nicaragua in the context of the COP26 summit in Glasgow.

That webinar also featured UN Special Rapporteur David R. Boyd who stated: “We need more defenders of the right to a healthy environment, Indigenous rights, the rights of the child and other human rights. And yet in far too many states today standing up for the environment is a dangerous and even deadly activity.”

As Global Witness highlighted at their commemoration last week outside the COP26 meeting site in Glasgow, more than 1,005 land and environmental rights defenders have been killed since the COP21 summit in 2015 in Paris.

Democracy Now! spoke with Andrea Ixchíu, a Maya K’iche’ leader, journalist and human rights defender based in Guatemala, and Global Witness senior adviser Louis Wilson, about the situation faced by defenders. You can watch that interview and more here.

Now Greenpeace has posted the first draft of the Glasgow decision text.

Greenpeace comments: “Campaigners are gravely concerned because ordinarily, the first draft of a COP text is relatively ambitious and becomes weaker over the second week as countries work in caveats for themselves. For the first draft to be so weak does not bode well.”

The first draft makes no mention of the dangers faced by land and environmental rights defenders on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

This despite the UN Human Rights Council resolution of 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.”

This also follows the tweet from David R. Boyd, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, that stated: “How on Earth can there be no mention of #HumanRights in the COP26 work programme on public participation in climate action?”

This relates to the Glasgow work programme on Action for Climate Empowerment that should amplify and reaffirm international frameworks such as the Aarhus Convention and the Escazú Agreement, significant agreements for the safety of defenders.

We continue to monitor this situation with concern.

COP26 is schedule to conclude on November 12.

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