UN Human Rights Council unanimously calls for better protection of & consultation with environmental human rights defenders by states & businesses

Author: International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) (Switzerland), Published on: 22 March 2019

"HR40 | Council unanimously recognises vital role of environmental human rights defenders", 21 Mar 2019

Human Rights Council has adopted a strong consensus resolution recognising the critical role of environmental human rights defenders in protecting vital ecosystems, addressing climate change, attaining the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and ensuring that no-one is left behind... The resolution meets many of the civil society demands ISHR expressed in a joint letter along with more than 180 groups. By formally acknowledging the important role of environmental human rights defenders, the Council highlights to legitimacy of their work, helps to counter stigmatisation and can contribute to expanding their operating space. Though the resolution falls short in some key areas, its adoption by consensus is a positive step towards better protection of environmental human rights defenders. It must now be followed by implementation at the national level by all relevant stakeholders, including States, UN agencies, businesses and development finance institutions... [T]his is the first time that the world's top human rights body has explicitly...called for [their] protection... It can be used by civil society as a lever to push for concrete action... [It] [c]alls on businesses to carry out human rights due diligence and to hold meaningful and inclusive consultations with defenders, potentially affected groups and other relevant stakeholders...

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