Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (22 April) on the occasion of the entry into force of the Escazú Agreement:
I congratulate the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on the entry into force of their first regional environmental agreement on 22 April, International Mother Earth Day. It is the world’s first legally binding instrument to protect human rights defenders in the environmental field.
With the recognition of the right of current and future generations to live in a healthy environment, the Agreement represents a milestone for real change. Against the backdrop of the large number of environment and human rights activists who have been killed and the worsening climate crisis, the Escazú Agreement is groundbreaking with regard to the protection of human and environmental rights.
I encourage the states that are especially active in the mining and export of raw materials such as Brazil, Chile, Peru and Venezuela also soon to sign the Agreement.
After ratification by 12 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, also named the Escazú Agreement after its place of origin in Costa Rica, enters into force on 22 April 2021.
The Agreement is based on Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development of 1992 and is intended to guarantee transparency, participation and access to legal remedy for citizens of the member states affected by environmental problems.
The Agreement was concluded within the context of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and rests on four key pillars: access to environmental information, participation rights, rights of appeal for affected citizens and protection mechanisms for environment activists.
The Agreement therefore goes further than existing conventions such as the European Aarhus Convention by creating the conditions for avoiding socio-ecological conflicts from the outset through the bestowal of individual rights.
Of the 24 signatory states, the following 12 countries have already ratified the Agreement: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Uruguay. Brazil and Peru have signed but not yet ratified the Agreement.