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Human rights and the environment: UN expert launches first fact-finding visit to Madagascar

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, John H. Knox, will undertake his first official visit to Madagascar from 25 to 31 October 2016 to assess how the country is protecting and promoting human rights relating to environmental protection.  

“A healthy environment is essential for the enjoyment of human rights everywhere, but it is of the utmost importance for the protection of human rights in Madagascar, where so much of the population is rural and depends directly on the environment,” the expert stressed.

“I am looking forward to the visit to Madagascar as a treasure house of ecological diversity, and because it will help to inform my understanding of the relationship of the conservation of biological diversity and the protection of human rights,” said Mr. Knox, who is currently working on a year-long study* on biodiversity and human rights.

The Special Rapporteur noted that the Government of Madagascar has made important commitments to protect human rights related to the environment. Its Environmental Charter states that everyone has the fundamental right to live in a healthy and balanced environment, and specifically recognizes several rights such as rights to information, participation and access to justice as well as the impacts that environmental harm can have on social and economic aspects of life.

“I will assess, in particular, the lessons learned and challenges faced in the country with regard to realisation of environmental rights, as well as how it is addressing environmental challenges with human rights impacts such as climate change, deforestation, and the loss of biological diversity,” he said.

During his seven-day visit, at the invitation of the Government, the human rights expert will meet Government officials and experts, as well as representatives of civil society.

Mr. Knox will present his preliminary observations on the visit at a press conference on the last day of the mission, Monday 31 October at 11:30, in Salle de réunion Titan II, Maison Commune des Nations Unies, Zone Galaxy, Rue du Dr Raseta, Andraharo, Antananarivo 101. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report to the UN Human Rights Council in 2017.


Distributed by APO on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).