Resolution on Environmental Human Rights Defenders adopted by consensus

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Photo: Permanent Mission of Norway to the UN. From the left: Ambassador - Permanent Representative Hans Brattskar, Minister-Counsellor Human Rights Herborg Fiskaa F. Alvsaaker, First Secretary Human Rights Sean Lobo, Intern Sigurd Gotaas Brekke and Senior Advisor Lena Hasle.

The resolution expresses alarm about the situation for human rights defenders working on environmental matters – environmental human rights defenders, who are particularly vulnerable to violence as well as killings, simply for doing their work.

During its 40th session, the UN Human Rights Council adopted by consensus the resolution “Recognizing the contribution of environmental human rights defenders to the enjoyment of human rights, environmental protection and sustainable development”.

The resolution recalls our common commitment to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030, and the positive role played by human rights defenders in the promotion and protection of human rights as they relate to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable development.

In this regard, the resolution expresses alarm about the situation for human rights defenders working on environmental matters – environmental human rights defenders, who are particularly vulnerable to violence as well as killings, simply for doing their work.

To reverse this trend, and to empower and protect environmental human rights defenders, actions are needed in a number of areas, not least the development of effective protection mechanisms. Furthermore, Indigenous Peoples, people living in rural and marginalized communities, as well as women human rights defenders, face particular challenges and threats that needs to be considered and addressed. 

The resolution also recognizes the importance of implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and underscores the responsibility of all businesses enterprises to respect human rights, including the rights to life, liberty and security of human rights defenders.

As stated by the Secretary General Guterres, during the opening of this Council on 25th February, in 2018, four environmental activists, mostly indigenous people, were killed every week.  By adopting this resolution by consensus, the Human Rights Council has sent a clear and strong message that these killings, as well as all other forms of violence against environmental human rights defenders has to end.

In introducing the draft mandate to the Council for adoption, Ambassador Hans Brattskar emphasized that environmental human rights defenders are vulnerable: “simply for doing their work. This is a violation of their human rights, and is strongly condemned.”

Norway extends its thanks and appreciation to all 63 co-sponsors of the resolution. The broad, cross-regional support emphasizes an important recognition of human rights defenders` legitimate work, and Norway encourages all states to ensure that defenders, including environmental human rights defenders may operate freely, without fear of intimidation or reprisals.

The following countries co-sponsored the resolution:

Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Botswana, and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georigia Germany, Ghana, Greece, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Mozambique, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay, State of Palestine: