Land and Environmental Rights Defenders in Danger: an Overview of Recent Cases (December 2013)

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The term “human rights defenders” refers to women and men, who, individually or in association with others, act for the promotion and protection of others’ universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms, in conformity with universal and international human rights instruments. It encompasses both professional and non-professional individuals, groups and associations, who advocate for civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights.

As competition for land and access to resources is accelerating at the global level, the economic development of many countries is based on the exploitation of natural resources meant to be exported to sustain economic activities in other parts of the world. Economic growth has also triggered an increase in the demand for energy and several mega-projects are developing throughout the world. Such projects implemented by State-owned enterprises or private multinational corporations, backed by important financial institutions, exacerbate the tensions between populations and the economic operators who are often supported by States and are often criticised for their harmful effects on the environment and the enjoyment of human rights.

This compilation of cases provides an overview, although far from comprehensive, of the situation of land and environmental rights defenders in danger in 2013.

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