During the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council, member states deliberated on a resolution to support environmental human rights defenders.

Ahead of the Council’s discussion of the draft resolution, nearly 200 civil society organisations, including SOMO, issued a joint letter urging the members of the UN Human Rights Council to support environmental human rights defenders. This is an important and urgent subject as UN agencies, human rights organisations and the media have documented unprecedented killings and attacks against people defending land and the environment.

Finally, the Council unanimously adopted a resolution that formally acknowledges the role of environmental human rights defenders and thereby reaffirms the legitimacy of their work, and helps to counter stigmatization. The resolution, as currently drafted, is an important step but does not yet represent the unequivocal signal in support of human right defenders.

Although the resolution has taken up some of the key demands of civil society, it did fall short in some areas, as it does not describe the human rights obligations of development finance institutions, or outline the required steps to consult, respect and protect the work of environmental human rights defenders.

Read the joint NGO letter here and the Council Resolution here for more information.