24 Apr 2018 Statement Environmental rights and governance

Statement in response to the murder of environmental campaigner Nazildo dos Santos Brito

UN Environment statement in response to the murder of environmental campaigner Nazildo dos Santos Brito and the escalating violence against land rights activists in Brazil

UN Environment notes with deep concern the escalation of violence against land rights activists in Brazil. The recent murder of Nazildo dos Santos and two other environmental activists in the state of Pará is indicative of a worrying pattern of retaliation against those protecting their environmental and human rights. 

Land rights which are guaranteed under the Brazilian constitution must be fulfilled by government and respected by business. The murder of indigenous people living on the frontlines of environmental protection is unacceptable. UN Environment calls for a full, impartial and transparent investigation into the murder of Nazildo dos Santos Brito and of the two leaders of the Association of Caboclos Indígenas e Quilombolas da Amazônia killed since December.

This violence in the heart of one of the most ecologically important places on earth mars the many advances Brazil has made in recent years to safeguard its natural resources from unsustainable use. Solutions to land rights challenges are available and have been implemented in many parts of the world, but space must be made available to indigenous and local communities to speak on issues intrinsic to their environmental and human rights. UN Environment has been successfully engaging with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palmoil to promote the sustainable production of palm oil. We are available to engage with relevant authorities from the state of Para, as well as palm oil producers from the region, on the issue of palm oil and land rights.

UN Environment promotes greater protection for defenders and recognizes and relies on the critical work of the UN Special Procedures and civil society actors. This policy is grounded in international environmental law, including in relevant UN instruments and resolutions. It is on this basis that UN Environment is calling for the violence against land rights activists to cease with immediate effect and the safety of the leaders of land rights groups be assured.

Erik Solheim

Head, UN Environment