Antigua and Barbuda signs Escazu Agreement in New York

September 27, 2018

Antigua and Barbuda today became the first country in Latin America and the Caribbean as signatory to the “Escazu Agreement” which is the first legally binding regional agreement to protect the rights of access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters better known as Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration, concluding a negotiating process that began in 2014.

This agreement will help fight crime, poverty, inequality and is crucial to the protection of the environment in general. The agreement is sometimes referred to as “environmental democracy” which is a new legal term that implies the participation of all in protecting the environment.

Prime Minister Browne indicated the importance of Antigua and Barbuda in taking the bold step in becoming signatory to the agreement. The island is regarded as one of the front runners within the region with a progressive climate agenda with the hope of transforming Antigua and Barbuda into a climate smart country.

The Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (the Escazú Agreement) opened for the signature of all the countries in the region in the framework of the UN General Assembly.

The Escazú Agreement – so named because it was adopted last March 4 in the municipality of Escazú in Costa Rica – is the region’s first environmental agreement and is the only one of its kind in the world, since it includes specific provisions regarding defenders of human rights in environmental matters. It is the first legal instrument to have emerged thus far from the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Río+20).

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) provides the technical secretariat for the agreement.

From September 27 onward, any state that has signed the regional agreement will be able to ratify, accept or approve it. Ratification, acceptance or approval can be undertaken immediately after the signature. To enter into force, the agreement will require 11 states parties.

In addition to the official delegations from signatory countries, other potential participants in the ceremony include intergovernmental organizations and related entities that have observer status with the General Assembly, as well as non-governmental organizations that are in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The Escazú Agreement seeks to ensure that all persons have access to timely and reliable information, can participate in an effective way in the decisions that affect their lives and their environment, and can access justice in environmental matters, thereby contributing to the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“This is an agreement made by us, for us and the generations to come. It is a visionary instrument, without precedent, a second-generation environmental treaty because it explicitly links environmental matters with human rights and guarantees procedural rights that are essential for adequately implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” ECLAC’s executive secretary, Alicia Bárcena, indicated.