UN Environment's Defenders Policy promotes greater protection for individuals and groups who are defending their environmental rights, and identifies solutions to mitigate the abuse of environmental rights which affects a growing number of people in many parts of the world.

UN Environment seeks to support the upholding of environmental rights, and oppose the growing wave of violence against environmental defenders as well as the prevailing impunity with which these acts are being committed.

Through this policy, UN Environment:

  • Contributes to ending the threats, restrictions and violence against environmental defenders;
  • Assists States to address crucial issues related to environmental rights, and encourage States to recognize and support the role of ordinary citizens in environmental protection, and indigenous peoples and local communities;
  • Responds directly to the three pillars of the UN, and the Secretary General’s priorities on peace and security, development, and human rights, as well as the UN System-Wide Action Plan for coherent implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
  • Supports the implementation of and adherence to the UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;
  • Promotes the critical role of the rule of law in environmental matters; and
  • Encourages initiatives in the public, non-governmental and private sectors with the aim of ensuring greater respect and support for the rights of environmental defenders.

In addition, UN Environment will continue to align itself and work with judges around the world to develop and implement environmental constitutional provisions that will secure environmental rights.

UN Environment is also largely encouraging civil society groups, faith based organizations, law and policy makers, judges, prosecutors, national human rights institutions, regional human rights organizations, and regular citizens, including women environmental defenders, indigenous and local communities and their leaders, to be at the core of this initiative.

Download UN Environment's Defenders Policy:

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