On the 8th and 9th November, 2017, the URG Latin America, with the support of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, Professor John Knox and the International Union for Conservation of Nature – National Committee of the Netherlands (IUCN-N), convened a two-days regional consultation on the situation of environmental human rights defenders (EHRD) in Latin America.
Around 45 participants, including rural and indigenous EHRDs, experts, government representatives, former and current UN and OAS Special Rapporteurs, and civil society organisations, attended the meeting.
During the consultation, participants reflected on how environmental deterioration, and the development of infrastructure and other projects have affected the rights of the rural and the indigenous communities and groups – as well as the rights of the rest of the population, where applicable; the activities, needs, interests, and objectives of the Latin American EHRD, with a view to mapping how – according to their perspectives – the existing support and protection mechanisms can be improved, strengthened, and complemented; the main threats, risks, and challenges faced by them, and where possible, the root-causes of these hampering factors; good practices and success stories in the protection and support of these defenders.
This consultation is part of a series of regional consultations that aim at increasing the visibility of the situation faced by EHRDs in Latin America, raising awareness on the importance of further protecting and supporting these defenders and developing new and strengthening existing protection and support mechanisms for EHRDs.
As a result of the meeting, the URG will produce a one to two minute video showcasing the vital work of rural and indigenous EHRDs, the threats they face, and the possible protection and support tools, as well as a policy brief summarising the main conclusions and recommendations emanating form the consultation.
This policy brief would include, inter alia, an overview of the situation of indigenous and rural EHRDs in Latin America (risks, challenges, threats); success practices and stories; a summary of specific case-studies shared during the consultation; and conclusions as to how to strengthen, complement, and better implement protection and support mechanisms.