Environmental Human Rights Defenders - Call for inputs

Human rights defenders play an important role in the promotion and protection of our human rights, many of which depend on a healthy and sustainable environment. In their personal or professional capacity, individually or collectively, environmental human rights defenders (EHRDs) strive for the realisation of the rights and fundamental freedoms as they relate to the enjoyment of a safe, healthy and sustainable environment.

Despite the protection afforded to them by the human rights law, EHRDs increasingly face heightened risks and suffer grave violations of their rights as a result of their defence of land, environment and indigenous rights. They are subjected to killings and detention, threats and intimidation, stigma and criminalization from State and non-State actors.

States have clear obligations to respect the rights of EHRDs and protect them from harm. They should combat impunity for attacks and violations against EHRDs, particularly by non-State actors, who in turn also have responsibilities under human rights law. Business enterprises have a responsibility to respect internationally recognized human rights, a duty which is independent of State obligations.

Due to the complexity of monitoring and documenting the situation of EHRDs, it has been challenging to fully grasp the scale of the challenges and identify ways to overcome it.

The UN Special Rapporteur, Michel Forst, will therefore explore these issues in a report on the situation of EHRDs around the world, to be presented in October 2016 to the UN General Assembly.

In this context, you are encouraged to share your inputs on a) the risks and threats EHRDs are facing; b) the role of State and non-State actors in aggravating or alleviating them; and c) concrete measures and practices to strengthen the protection of EHRDs.

Please email your inputs to the questions (see questionnaires in English | French | Spanish) to defenders@ohchr.org at the earliest convenience or by 24 June 2016, at the latest.

Your responses will be held confidentially and will not be attributed to you, unless you give us permission to do so.