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Commentary: Land & environmental defenders must be at heart of implementing Sustainable Development Goals & UN Guiding Principles

Author: Marie Becher & Jill Powis, Peace Brigades International, Published on: 1 August 2016

"Leaving No One Behind: Land and environmental defenders at the heart of sustainable development", 28 Jul 2016

The phrase "leaving no one behind" is used…six times in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development...CIVICUS[‘s] State of Civil Society Report [emphasizes that] civil society needs to be in the vanguard of shaping and delivering this…agenda [and] Global Witness's report On Dangerous Ground… illustrates the need to put protecting land and environmental rights defenders at the heart of sustainable development. [It] documents 185 killings of…defenders across 16 countries in 2015. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) have been hailed…as a “powerful and critical companion to the Sustainable Development Goals.” However,…the principles are not legally binding on…states or companies [and] only 10 states  have so far adopted National Action Plans to give effect to the UNGPs…. Despite their critical role in promoting corporate respect  for human rights, [HRDs] are not mentioned in the Principles themselves…A new report by ICAR and ISHR - Human Rights Defenders in National Action Plans (NAPs) on Business and Human Rights - is a very welcome response. The current scenario shows the vital role that civil society…must play, both in supporting these defenders directly, as well as ensuring that the international human rights framework affords them…protection….This will go some way to ensuring…they can become fully recognised partners in the efforts to achieve the SDGs, and that they…are not "left behind."

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