Americas: Historic environmental and human rights treaty gains momentum as 12 countries sign

Twelve countries across Latin America and the Caribbean have signed the Escazú Agreement in a major victory for the environment and human rights that should inspire the rest of the region to follow suit, said Amnesty International.

Argentina, Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Peru, St. Lucia, and Uruguay all signed the treaty at the first opportunity today as the UN General Assembly started in New York, while the Dominican Republic and Haiti have also committed to signing in the coming hours.

“The leadership of the dozen countries who signed the Escazú Agreement today should serve as inspiration for the rest of the region and beyond,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International. “We urge all other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to promptly follow their example for the survival and wellbeing of current and future generations.” 

The Escazú Agreement aims to promote the right of present and future generations to a healthy environment and to sustainable development. It is the first binding treaty in the Americas region aimed at protecting the right of individuals and groups to access public information and to access justice in environmental matters. Crucially, the Agreement also enshrines the protection of environmental defenders—a vital step forward in a region where protection of the environment has resulted in killings, attacks and unfounded legal proceedings.