Resolution on environmental defenders adopted by the UN Human Rights Council
A Norwegian-led resolution on human rights defenders working with environmental issues was yesterday unanimously adopted by the UN Human Rights Council. “I am very pleased that we have succeeded in securing agreement on a strong text on a field with such a demanding context,” Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide, comments.
Norway has for 20 years led the work on the annual resolutions on human rights defenders.
This year’s UN Human Rights Council resolution recognizes the important role of human rights defenders in defending the environment and building and securing sustainable, open and democratic societies, the Minister of Foreign Affairs emphasises.
Many who stand up for their and others’ rights take a great risk. This is especially true of those who work with environmental issues. The organization Global Witness documented over 200 killings of human rights defenders in environmental issues in 2017 – a record high. Unfortunately, the trend is increasing.
The resolution is the first of its kind especially for human rights defenders in environmental matters. It strongly condemns the killing of human rights defenders and requires the release of persons who have been imprisoned for exercising their fundamental rights. It further expresses serious concern about the situation of environmentalists, including indigenous peoples and female human rights defenders.
The resolution was adopted by consensus, that is, all countries support the decision. In addition, so far, 60 countries, from all continents, supported the resolution as co-sponsors. The Minister of Foreign Affairs would like to thank all the partners and civil society organizations around the world who have supported the work on the resolution.
“It is an important victory that all UN member states managed to gather a strong resolution in support of human rights defenders working with environmental issues. This sends a strong signal to all human rights defenders that states and non-state actors should not see them as a threat, but as a resource that deserves protection. Human rights defenders play a decisive role in order to achieve the UN’s sustainability goals. The protection of human rights defenders is a central Norwegian priority, anchored in the Government’s parliamentary report on human rights. The overall objective is that work to promote and protect human rights worldwide should be possible without obstacles and threats to life and health for human rights defenders and their families.”
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