The UN Human Rights Council has recognized the major role of the defenders of economic, social and cultural rights. It was acknowledged that defending such things as land rights puts these individuals and communities at high-risk.
This news comes at a very important time after land and environmental rights activists Berta Cáceres and Nelson García were assassinated in Honduras this month. It is not uncommon for states to negotiate land deals or private companies to violate the environment without consideration of the people and the communities which rely on the land. When the human rights defenders oppose such projects they have so often in the past been attacked or murdered. Rarely are these attacks followed up with investigations by authorities let alone lead to prosecution. Further, as these defenders tend to live in rural areas, their access to protection in extremely limited. While there remains a number of states that stand against this recognition, the UN Human Rights Council hopes all states will implement the rights of these defenders.
The ‘Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development’ resolution can be read here. The press release by OMCT is also available on their website.