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UN resolution calls for protection of rights, environment defenders

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
UN resolution calls for protection of rights, environment defenders
The 47-member body, which includes the Philippines, adopted without a vote the resolution during its 40th session in Geneva, Switzerland last week.

MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has approved a resolution calling for the protection of human rights defenders, including those working against degradation of the environment.

The 47-member body, which includes the Philippines, adopted without a vote the resolution during its 40th session in Geneva, Switzerland last week.

The UNHRC expressed grave concern at the situation of environmental human rights defenders around the world and condemned killings and all other human rights violations or abuses committed against them by state and non-state actors.

It noted the increasing rate of incidents that include gender-based violence, threats, harassment, intimidation, smear campaigns, criminalization, judicial harassment, forced eviction and displacement of environmental human rights defenders. It added that this is also true for the indigenous and women human rights defenders and human rights defenders who are addressing issues relating to land rights.

The human rights body underscored the need to develop protection mechanisms for environmental human rights defenders, taking into account the intersectional dimensions of violations against women human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, rural and marginalized communities and persons belonging to minorities.

It stressed that human rights defenders must be ensured a safe and enabling environment to undertake their work free from hindrance and insecurity, in recognition of their important role to support states in fulfilling their obligations.

It also urged states to acknowledge, through public statements, policies, programs or laws, the important and legitimate role of human rights defenders in the promotion of all human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The UNHRC said states must respect, protect and fulfill human rights, including in all actions undertaken to address environmental challenges, including the rights to life and to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

They must also promote a safe and enabling environment, as well as provide for effective remedies for human rights violations and abuses.

“(The body) urges states to take concrete steps to prevent and put an end to arbitrary arrest and detention, including of human rights defenders, and in this regard strongly urges the release of persons detained or imprisoned, in violation of the obligations and commitments of states under international human rights law, for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms,” read the resolution.

ENVIRONMENT DEFENDERS UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
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