As the world convened in November 2021 for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), civil society globally faced increased restrictions on freedom of assembly and environmental activism, which was only exacerbated by government responses to COVID-19.
This article, written by Eszter Hartay and Ivana Rosenzweigov from the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law, highlights that states and civil society cooperation are necessary to slowing the climate crisis. However, disproportionate government restrictions on the right to protest, free speech, access to information, and freedom of association are limiting the public’s ability to participate in decision-making in environmental issues. In addition, environmental defenders regularly face threats of physical violence. According to the UNSR on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, over 70% of the human rights defenders killed each year are defending the environment.