Second draft of COP27 final declaration fails to mention safety for frontline environmental human rights defenders

Published by Brent Patterson on

Ministers discuss the text at COP27. Photo by Etienne Leblanc.

A second draft of the COP27 final declaration text has been released. The Guardian reports: “At 10 pages, this second draft of the Cop27 cover text is just half the length of the previous version [and] some key points have been weakened or left out.”

Language recognizing environmental human rights defenders was neither noted in the first draft or this second draft.

In sharp contrast, the first point in the COP27 Peoples’ Declaration for Climate Justice states: “We recognise that there can be no climate justice without human rights and Indigenous Peoples’ Rights. We call on all governments to stop the shrinking of civic space, to respect the rights and dignity of Indigenous Peoples, workers, climate activists, human rights activists and environmental defenders.”

Prior to COP27, EarthRights International, Global Witness, Natural Justice, Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental (SPDA), CIVICUS, and the International Land Coalition released a set of recommendations calling on those at COP27 to take meaningful steps to protect those on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

Silvana Baldovino of SPDA said: “A higher recognition and incorporation by the UNFCCC and COP27 of the role of defenders in facing the climate crisis is crucial to move States towards stronger protection schemes.”

Amnesty International also called on all parties at COP27 to: “Ensure the action plan recognizes the role of environmental human rights defenders in promoting effective and ambitious climate action and includes concrete measures to protect them in line with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.”

And UN Special Rapporteur Ian Fry recommended “establishing an international tribunal for the prosecution of perpetrators of violence against and the killing of environmental and indigenous human rights defenders and enhanced participatory processes at future COP conferences as well as the General Assembly.”

Several years ago, in March 2019, the UN Human Rights Council affirmed that “human rights defenders, including environmental human rights 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” to limit global average temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

And yet this language continues to be missing from COP declarations.

On November 15, Peace Brigades International convened a webinar with environmental defenders from Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Kenya. To hear their concerns about COP27, click here.

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