Americas: Historic environmental and human rights treaty gains momentum as 12 countries sign

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3 Oct 2018
[International Secretariat]
Region: Americas

Twelve countries across Latin America and the Caribbean have signed the Escazú Agreement in a major victory for the environment and human rights that should inspire the rest of the region to follow suit, said Amnesty International today.

Argentina, Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Peru, St. Lucia, and Uruguay all signed the treaty at the first opportunity today as the UN General Assembly started in New York, while the Dominican Republic and Haiti have also committed to signing in the coming hours.

“As Latin America and the Caribbean’s first regional environmental treaty, the Escazú Agreement sets a historic precedent for guaranteeing everyone’s right to a clean and healthy environment, ensuring that all voices can be heard when it’s time to take important decision” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

“The leadership of the dozen countries today should serve as inspiration for the rest of the region and beyond. We urge all other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to promptly follow their example.”

Adopted in San José, Costa Rica, by representatives of 24 countries on 4 March, the treaty implements Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration from the 1992 Earth Summit, by establishing protections for the rights of access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters.

The agreement also imposes specific obligations to protect environmental human rights defenders from threats or attacks; to investigate and punish any aggressions against them; and to guarantee their rights to life and personal integrity, as well as the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, movement, expression and association.

“The Escazú Agreement is the first treaty in history to include specific provisions to protect environmental defenders, setting an example for the whole world to follow. It represents a vital opportunity to establish accountability for human rights violations relating to the environment,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas.

“But simply signing the Agreement is not enough. Signatory countries must now swiftly ratify it and take concrete measures to ensure that the treaty lives up to its ambitious ideals.”

As of today, all 33 states in Latin America and the Caribbean have the opportunity to sign the agreement at the UN headquarters in New York. At least 11 countries must sign and ratify it by 27 September 2020 for it to come into force.

27 September 2018

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