COP26: UK Government must recognise role of environmental human rights defenders in resisting climate change


Environmental activists often silenced by governments around the world

Open letter to the COP26 president calling on the UK government to lead the recognition and protection of environmental human rights defenders

“The UK voice has power. It’s time to use it and be a world leader at COP26 by pledging to protect environmental human rights defenders ”- Karla McLaren

Environmental human rights activists have seen an increase in attacks and threats from governments around the world, and the UK government must do more to recognize and protect their crucial role, Peace Brigades International and Amnesty said today. International UK in an open letter to Alok Sharma. , President of COP26.

The work of environmental human rights defenders is integral to protecting the planet and the transition to greener economies. Activists and communities play a crucial role as the first line of defense against ecological collapse, as well as forerunners in the campaign to prevent it, which must be recognized.

In total, 19 organizations, supporting hundreds of human rights defenders around the world, signed the open letter calling for concrete commitments to support environmental human rights defenders at COP26.

Around the world, indigenous peoples and conservationists are risking their lives to fight climate change and biodiversity loss. According to the latest Global Witness report, 227 land and environmental defenders were killed around the world in 2020, an increase from 212 people in 2019.

Susi Bascon, Director of Peace Brigades International, said:

“The invaluable knowledge, perception and experience of environmental human rights defenders can no longer be ignored by any state that wishes to fully implement the Paris Agreement and avoid climate degradation, ecological collapse and escalating social inequalities. Partnering with them is a must.

“Putting environmental human rights defenders at the center of politics is imperative if we are to honor the UK’s legacy of leadership in protecting human rights and saving the planet for future generations. “

Karla McLaren, Amnesty International UK Head of Government and Political Relations, noted:

“As the climate emergency worsens, the threat to those who protect the environment grows.

“But instead of being recognized for their bravery, many have faced increased attacks, reduced protection and draconian crackdown disguised as emergency responses.

The voice of the UK has power. It’s time to use it and be a global leader at COP26 by committing to recognize and protect environmental human rights defenders.

The 19 organizations are calling on the UK government to take the lead in partnering with human rights defenders on climate change policy.

Global governments must:

  1. Improve the minimum standards of support for environmental human rights defenders through its network of embassies and diplomatic posts;
  2. Strengthen protective mechanisms for environmental human rights defenders, through measures such as protection grants, amnesties and funding for rapid emergency response mechanisms.
  3. Increase access to flexible and core funding for environmental human rights defenders.
  4. Facilitate and support access to justice and resilience building, through pro bono partnerships and legal clinics in the UK.
  5. Establish and facilitate access to effective judicial and non-judicial grievance mechanisms to tackle business-related human rights and environmental violations committed by UK businesses at the domestic and extraterritorial level.
  6. Integrate a human rights-based approach into policies, and make climate funding conditional on such an approach, in consultation with human rights defenders and civil society
  7. Ensure UK business enterprises, including financial institutions, apply and publish human rights due diligence measures to identify, prevent and mitigate potential and actual human rights violations, including the criminalization of human rights defenders.

ENDS

Open letter signed by:

Peace Brigades International United Kingdom, Amnesty International UK, ABCColombia, Action4Justice, Bind, Business and Human Rights Resource Center, CAFOD, Human rights campaign in the Philippines, Feminist Foreign Policy Center, Defenders Protection Initiative, Foundation for Environmental Justice, Lawyers Hansen Palomares, International Service for Human Rights, Lawyers Against Poverty (LAP), London mining network, Support group in Peru, SCIAF, Stakeholder Network for Democracy (SDN), West African Network of Human Rights Defenders (WAHRDN).

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