Members help advance regional agreement on environmental justice

ESCR-Net Members Amnesty International (AI), Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ), Just Associates (JASS), Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID), Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Centro de Archivo y Acceso a la Información Pública (CAinfo), Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA), Conectas Direitos Humanos, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Front Line Defenders, Fundación de Estudios para la Aplicación del Derecho – FESPAD, FUNDAR Centro de Análisis e Investigación, Observatorio Ciudadano (OC), Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Research (PODER) and The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) have joined civil society in Latin America and the Caribbean to push forward the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental  Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (also known as the Escazú Agreement).

Throughout the region, extractive industries and other projects causing environmental impacts have resulted in conflict between companies and governments promoting these projects and the communities -- many times of indigenous peoples -- who are affected by negative environmental impacts. Latin America and the Caribbean has repeatedly been named the most dangerous region to defend the environment and oppose large scale exploitation. A recent report from Global Witness estimates that 60% of killings of environmental human rights defenders globally in 2017 took place in Latin America.

Developed within the framework of the Organization of American States (OAS), the legally binding Escazú Agreement would guarantee greater community participation and access to information regarding projects with an environmental impact as well as access to justice in case of rights violations. Notably, the treaty also includes a section on the responsibilities of states regarding the protection of environmental human rights defenders in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In March 2018, the Escazú Agreement was adopted and released for signatures by the 33 member states of Latin America and the Caribbean at a signing ceremony during the United Nations General Assembly in September 2018. Regional civil society and global partners have advocated with their own governments as well as third governments to achieve the 11 signatures and ratifications necessary for the agreement to enter into force. Fourteen governments signed the agreement during the signing ceremony.

Signing and ratification of the Escazú Agreement by countries in Latin America and the Caribbean would be an important step towards ensuring that communities can participate in decisions that affect their lives as well as protecting those that legitimately speak up against projects that will negatively impact the environment in their communities.  

For more information about the Escazú Agreement, please see this link.