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Article

21 Oct 2016

Author:
Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders presents new report on environmental defenders at UN General Assembly, advocates a 'preventative approach' by states and corporations

"Police and hired assassins are killing land rights defenders. Let's end this violence", 21 Oct 2016

At the UN general assembly on Friday, I will present a report setting out the vital steps that governments, companies and investors must take to tackle and end this hidden crisis. It is a cruel irony that the men and women who are brave enough to fight for the protection of our planet are being assailed, threatened or criminalised. Governments rarely investigate the murders…or punish those responsible...A new approach is needed, to tackle the root causes of the problem…Once a project is under way it can be hard to dampen disputes over land and the environment. Authorities and businesses are eager to see a return on their investment and wield more power than local communities, who are often marginalised…My report advocates a preventative approach, one that puts communities at the centre of decisions about the use of their land... Their input and expertise will shape projects, making them more sustainable, less destructive and ultimately more profitable for the communities, businesses and states involved, as tensions and violence are prevented...

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