Mar 01, 2018

LAC P10: A Legally Binding Agreement to Improve Environmental Democracy and Protect Defenders


From February 28, 2018 to March 4, 2018 in Costa Rica, countries and civil society groups are negotiating the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, also known as LAC P10. If adopted as a legally binding agreement, it would require governments to set new standards to achieve Principle 10, known as the environmental democracy principle of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. These legally binding provisions would improve people’s access to environmental information (such as water pollution data or mining concessions details), strengthen their ability to participate in environmental decision-making, and help them hold powerful interests to account for harming communities and the environment.

LAC P10 also includes requirements for governments to protect people seeking to participate in decision-making processes about infrastructure, thereby reducing the risks environmental defenders face. These new ground-breaking provisions include:

  • Guaranteeing a safe environment for people and organizations promoting and defending human rights in environmental matters, so they’re free from threats, restrictions and insecurity;
  • Taking steps to recognize, protect and promote all the rights of environmental defenders; and
  • Implementing measures to prevent, investigate and punish attacks, threats or intimidations against environmental defenders.

Since Chile initiated the LAC P10 negotiations more than six years ago, more than 20 countries have joined the process. This week, they’ll finalize the terms and decide once and for all if the agreement will be legally binding.

The current draft text proposes that at least eight countries must ratify the agreement to bring it into force. It will be critical that governments, which have previously indicated interest in a legally binding agreement, sign the treaty as soon as possible to encourage other nations to endorse it. Civil society organizations across Latin America and the Caribbean are petitioning regional leaders, including those in Brazil and Argentina, to support the agreement. If the negotiations fall short, LAC P10 would not be legally binding, becoming little more than voluntary guidance that countries may or may not implement.

The agreement is especially important for Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, Peru and Colombia, which have been some of the most dangerous places for environmental and land defenders in recent years.

These are selected extracts from the Blog published in The Access Initiative´s website “4 Environmental Activists Are Murdered Every Week. A New Agreement Could Help in Latin America and the Caribbean” by Carole Excell. To read the full Blog, access here.