UN Human Rights Council Recognizes Vital Role of Environmental Human Rights Defenders
On March 21, 2019, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a resolution recognizing the need for countries to protect environmental justice activists, termed “environmental human rights defenders,” from reprisals for their work. Sixty countries from around the globe unanimously supported the adoption of the resolution with strong support from Latin American nations, a region where environmental justice work carries increased risk. The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) notes that this is the first time the HRC has “explicitly and with one voice called for the protection of environmental human rights defenders.”
Critically, the resolution calls on countries to express publicly the “important and legitimate” role environmental defenders play and to “combat impunity” by thoroughly investigating the cases of those who have been killed, disappeared, or threatened. The ISHR also notes that the resolution meets many of the demands expressed in a joint letter by over 180 civil society organizations from around the globe, including the World Movement.