15 Mar 2018 Statement Environmental rights and governance

Statement in response to allegations of terrorism against UN Special Rapporteurs

UN Environment notes with deep concern the recent accusations of terrorism that have been levelled against UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Ms. Joan Carling, Focal Person for Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development, and hundreds of other individuals in the Philippines. The legal petition filed by the Philippines Government alleges that those listed should be declared as terrorists.

These charges must be dropped immediately, and support provided for the legitimate activities of these individuals who have UN mandates, and the civil society organisations with which they work. UN Environment has a long-standing relationship with Ms. Tauli-Corpuz and Ms. Carling, in line with its mandate as leading global environmental authority, and its normative framework on international human rights standards. It is deeply concerning that authorities have routinely responded to the expressions of environmental and human rights defenders by criminalizing and delegitimizing their voices. The shrinking space available to independent people to carry out legitimate work and to speak on behalf of many voiceless indigenous and local communities globally is an issue that must be addressed through increasing openness and participation.

UN Environment has developed a policy on promoting greater protection for environmental defenders which recognises and relies on the critical work of the UN Special Procedures and civil society actors. The policy is grounded in international environmental law, including in relevant UN instruments and resolutions. UN Environment also emphasises the important role those named can play in implementation and effective policy-making. It is on this basis that UN Environment is calling for these allegations to be dropped, and the safety of those named in the legal petition be assured.


Erik Solheim

Head, UN Environment