During the past two weeks, Antigua & Barbuda, Nicaragua and Panama ratified the Escazú Agreement, giving a major boost to the unprecedented and innovative Latin American pact that seeks to reduce social conflicts and protect frontline communities in the world’s deadliest region for environmental defenders.
The move means only three more ratifications are needed for the regional agreement to enter into force. The agreement initially opened for signatures during the UN General Assembly in September 2018 following three years of negotiations under the supervision of the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
Fourteen more countries are pending ratification. This includes Colombia, which eventually signed in December 2019, revising its original resistance to the pact after mounting public pressure and protests.
The rationale behind the Escazú Agreement is that access to information in Latin America remains poor, there is widespread impunity for crimes against environmental defenders, and communities’ right to consultation on the impacts of large development projects are often disrespected.
So why is the agreement still important, and what progress has it made?
The journalistic project ‘Land of Resistants’, which brought together more than 35 journalists from seven countries, investigated the situation facing environmental defenders in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru. It found:
[This article originally appeared on Diálogo Chino and is republished under a Creative Commons license.]
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