John H. Knox, the UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment named by the Human Rights Council, has recently reported the following news items. For more information, see his website, http://ieenvironment.org/, and the UN website on his mandate, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/IEEnvironment/Pages/IEenviro…, including his reports to the Human Rights Council.
Environmental Human Rights Defenders. Environmental human rights defenders – people who seek to defend the rights of themselves and others to their land and environment – are at great and growing risk. A recent study by Global Witness concludes that between the beginning of 2002 and the end of 2013, 908 people in 35 countries were killed because of their work defending environmental and land rights, an average of one a week for over a decade. Deadly Environment: The Dramatic Rise in Killings of Environmental and Land Defenders, available at http://www.globalwitness.org/deadlyenvironment/.
Climate Change and Human Rights. At its June session, the Human Rights Council adopted an important resolution on climate change and human rights. Among other things, the resolution emphasized the urgent importance of addressing, as they relate to States’ human rights obligations, the adverse consequences of climate change for all, particularly in developing countries and people whose situation is most vulnerable to climate change; called upon all States to continue to enhance international dialogue and cooperation in relation to the adverse impacts of climate change on the enjoyment of human rights; and decided to incorporate in the program of work of its March 2015 session a full day discussion on specific themes concerning human rights and climate change.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on 14 July the appointment of Mary Robinson to be his Special Envoy on Climate Change. After serving as President of Ireland and High Commissioner for Human Rights, she founded and is the president of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, and her understanding of the relationship of climate change and human rights is unsurpassed. She has described climate change as “the biggest human rights issue of the 21st century.”
Environmental Democracy Index. The World Resources Institute, together with The Access Initiative, is developing an Environmental Democracy Index (EDI), which it describes as the first comprehensive index designed specifically to measure procedural rights in an environmental context. The EDI uses UNEP’s Bali Guidelines for the Development of National Legislation on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters as an international standard against which it can assess national laws. For more information about this project, go to http://www.wri.org/our-work/project/access-initiative-tai/commissions.
from Newsletter No. 8 ( 30 July 2014) from the UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment