by Linda Straker
- Escazú Agreement signed by Foreign Affairs Minister Peter David
- Grenada pledges to norms of peace, equality, justice, human rights and multilateralism
Grenada, last week became one of the latest states in the region to sign the Escazú Agreement which, among its articles includes binding provisions on the protection of human rights in environmental matters.
The Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (the Escazú Agreement) was developed under the auspices of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
The Escazú Agreement gives Latin America and the Caribbean a solid framework for pursuing the Sustainable Development Goals in a participatory and transparent manner.
Foreign Affairs Minister Peter David informed the United Nations General Assembly that the signing of the agreement and two other international treaties are a commitment from Grenada of its pledge to national and international life to the norms of peace, equality, justice and to human rights and multilateralism.
“Our foremost goal must be to aggressively pursue policies and strategies that will help us to mitigate the effects of some of these challenges—especially the ones over which we have little control; while at the same time moving expeditiously to implement long-term plans that will help to sustain our societies,” David told the General Assembly in his remarks as he spoke about the challenges facing small states like Grenada which has to take action to fulfil the goals of the international treaties.
The Escazú Agreement was approved in March 2018 after a negotiation that lasted about six years. It develops Principle 10 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, which seeks to ensure access to information, citizen participation and access to justice in environmental matters.
The agreement was named after the Costa Rican town of Escazú, where the last of the nine meetings of the Negotiating Committee in 2018 incorporates several innovative elements.
First, it has a specific provision on environmental human rights; it enshrines a rights-based approach toward indigenous peoples and vulnerable populations, with provisions to favour access to information, participation and access to justice by these groups and it also responds to the spirit of the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights regarding companies’ specific obligations to respect human rights in the context of their activities.
For the part of civil society that has been involved in the process, this agreement is the result of many years’ worth of work to promote access to information and environmental transparency, in a context where lack of participation and information about the environmental impacts of extractive and infrastructure projects are at the heart of much of the region’s many socio-environmental conflicts.
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