GENEVA (SWITZERLAND) / WASHINGTON, DC (US) — December 10, 2004 – A new report released today December 10th on Human Rights day exposes some thirty cases of environmental rights abuses world-wide.

The report ‘Our Environment, Our Rights’ [1] launched by Friends of the Earth International expands the definition of human rights to include environmental rights (such as rights for environmental refugees, right to claim ecological debt and the right to environmental justice) and shows how and where these rights are abused.

The 70-page testimony shows that the most blatant environmental rights violations tend to be inflicted on people whose civil, political, social and economic rights are not respected.

“Marginalized people around the world, including women, people of color and impoverished people in industrialized countries, suffer from environmental injustice by bearing the brunt of pollution,” said Sonja Ribi of Pro Natura / Friends of the Earth Switzerland.

“Our work shows that the basic right to life and the right to development cannot be fulfilled without the right to a healthy environment,” said David Waskow of Friends of the Earth in Washington. “In theory, existing human rights laws should protect our right to a healthy environment, but in practice that is not the case,” he added.

According to Tatiana Roa of Friends of the Earth Colombia “governments and transnational corporations are steadily seizing control of land, water, forests and minerals and all of this leads to environmental and human rights violations such as evictions, pollution, and destruction”.

The Friends of the Earth report was released ten years after the first-ever declaration of principles on human rights and the environment [2] drafted at the United Nations in Geneva in 1994.

In Washington, US: David Waskow (Friends of the Earth US) Tel: +1 202 222-0716
In Switzerland: Sonja Ribi (Pro Natura / Friends of the Earth Switzerland) Tel: +41 61 317 92 42
In Colombia: Tatiana Roa (CENSAT / Friends of the Earth Colombia): Tel: +57-310-3090862

[1] Friends of the Earth International report ‘Our Environment, Our Rights’ available here.

[2] The 1994 Draft Declaration of Principles on Human Rights and the Environment is available here.