United Nations condemns environment-related violence

12. 6. 2018 - NAIROBI / BELÉM
Erik Solheim, UNEP's Executive Director
PHOTO: Johannes Jansson / Wikimedia Commons

A persecution of activists protecting the environment and local communities has raised the attention of the United Nations Environment Program. The leading global authority on nature-related issues notes, "with deep concern about the violence against land rights activists." The statement was released after a series of murders of Brazilian campaigners and defenders of landowners' rights.

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has expressed its north indignation on the violent death of the anti-palm oil fighter, Nazildo dos Santos Brito. The incident occurred in the Brazilian state of Pará. In the statement, the Head of UNEP, Erik Solheim calls for a full, impartial, and transparent investigation.

"Land rights which are under Brazilian constitution must be fulfilled by the government and respected by business. The murder of indigenous people living on the front lines of environmental protection is unacceptable,” says UNEP's statement on the Brazilian palm oil-related bloodshed. Also, the case might spread the word on environmental activists persecution in general.

The Czech organization, Arnika, has been monitoring non-lethal persecution of activists in Europe and the post-soviet countries. Its chairman, Martin Skalský welcomes the statement of the UN Environment: "The attention of an institution, such as Microsoft, underlying The United Nations might mean some kind of shift for the better in the still overlooked problems," he hopes.

“About four people every week just for protecting the nature or simply their homes. There are no records on those who get beaten, intimidated, or otherwise punished. We can only guess how many times higher this number actually is,” Skalsky describes the 'silent zone' of the environment-related oppression.

Brazil dominates the chart of countries with the highest number of environmental activists, followed by Philipines and Columbia. According to The Guardian and the Global Witness, in 2017, Brazil saw 46 murders of such activists and 49 the year before.

Further reading:
25/04/2018  UN environment chief calls for full probe into Brazil land activists' murders (Reuters)
04/24/2018  Statement in response to the murder of environmental campaigner Nazildo dos Santos Brito (UNEP)
17/04/2018  Murdered land activist adds to rising death toll in Brazil's Amazon (The Guardian)

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