UN Treaty Urgently Needed For Environmental Activists
Creativecommons.org/Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade/Josh Esty
Defenders of the environment often face terrible consequences for their actions, suffering rights violations and violence, according to a new Friends of the Earth International report that’s due to be released next week during the 26th Session of the UN Human Rights Council.
“A new case of violence against environmental rights defenders and violations of their rights is reported to us on average once a week, and this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Lucia Ortiz, Friends of the Earth International Economic Justice International Program Coordinator.
Friends of the Earth International recorded more than 100 incidents of violence against environmental rights defenders and violations of their rights in 27 countries around the world in the period November 2011 - October 2013, according to the report.
More than half of the killings recorded by Friends of the Earth International between November 2011 and October 2013 were targeted assassinations of peasant leaders and deaths of peasants during violent confrontations regarding land disputes - often involving the protection of land from polluting development projects such as hydroelectric dams, mono-culture plantations or the extraction of oil, gas and minerals.
The new report calls on the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to create an international treaty to address corporate human rights violations.
“Environmental defenders who uphold the right of communities to determine their own development path in opposition to corporate-driven mega projects are subject to many types of human rights abuses, often committed by corporations or on their behalf,” added Ortiz.
Friends of the Earth International is part of the Treaty Alliance, an alliance determined to stop corporate human rights violations. The alliance wants UNHRC member states to support a resolution to ensure a legally binding system to bring corporations to justice for human rights violations, as well as remedies and justice for the victims.
Alberto Villarreal, Friends of the Earth Uruguay trade and investment campaigner added: “We urgently need an international treaty to address corporate human rights violations. By recognising environmental activism in all its expressions as legitimate defence of human rights, we can contribute to the struggle of environmental rights defenders and keep them safe.”