Side-Event: Environmental Human Rights Defenders

STATEMENT by H.E. Ms Ine Eriksen Søreide, The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, during the HRC40 side-event on environmental human rights defenders on 25 February 2019.

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Thank you all for coming here today.

The backdrop for this discussion is a deeply concerning trend of increased violence and killings of human rights defenders working on environmental issues.

For many environmental human rights defenders their work and activism made them targets.

And all too often, without any prosecution or punishment for their attackers. This is a human rights crisis, and it is a serious threat to our common commitment to the eradication of poverty through sustainable development.

This is why Norway has proposed to focus on environmental human rights defenders in this year’s thematic resolution.

The overall goal is to contribute to reversing the trend of escalating violence and killings, and to empower and protect environmental human rights defenders.

To do this, we hope the Human Rights Council will pass a strong resolution that clearly recognize the positive contribution of environmental human rights defenders for sustainable development, many of whom are also indigenous human rights defenders.

We also hope the Council will promote their active participation in decision-making processes, strengthen their protection, and call for justice and reparations when violations happens.

It is the responsibility of states to protect, promote and implement all human rights. However, businesses, media and other non-state actors also have an important role to play.

Supporting human rights defenders is a key priority in Norway’s human rights work. At the heart of this, lies the continued promotion and implementation of the Declaration on human rights defenders, by strengthening the normative framework here in the UN.

Working together, across regions and with a wide range of stakeholders, we have secured the adoption of many strong resolutions over the last 20 years.

We therefore invite all of you to work with us in the weeks that lie ahead, for a final text that does justice to those many that have sacrificed their life, health and livelihoods, for the protection of the environment and the rights that depend upon it.

We hope that this process also can provide a platform for increased cooperation between civil society actors working on human rights and the environment respectively, internationally and on the ground, where it matter most.

I look forward to hearing your experiences, as well as your perspectives and recommendations on how we can secure an outcome that makes a difference to the lives of environmental human right defenders – so that we get one step closer to realising the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda.