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Government defers ratification of Escazu Agreement after Costa Rica expresses doubt

Posted: Friday, February 10, 2023. 11:30 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Belize has delayed ratification of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, also known as the Escazu Agreement after the place of its signing in 2018.

As explained by Leader of Government Business Senator Eamon Courtenay at this morning’s meeting of the upper chamber after introducing the motion, “The Government of Costa Rica which is the seat of the Escazu Agreement, announced that it was reconsidering its position with respect to this Agreement. We will therefore delay the ratification, if authorized by the Senate, until the Government of Costa Rica finalizes its position.”

Per the motion, “the objective of the Agreement seeks to guarantee the full and effective implementation in Latin America and the Caribbean of the rights of access to environmental information, public participation in the environmental decision-making process and access to justice in environmental matters, and the creation and strengthening of capacities and cooperation, contributing to the protection of the right of every person of present and future generations, to live in a healthy environment and to sustainable development.”

The Agreement is backed by local and regional rights organizations as the first such agreement linking environment and human rights, that is legally binding. When the Government ratifies it, Belize will be held to a human rights-based approach – decisions like on oil exploration must be done in connection with affected communities. Additionally, there is greater protection for environmental defenders, including but not limited to rangers, park staff, managers, and journalists who report on environmental issues.

The second Conference of the Parties to further conceptualize the vision of the Agreement is scheduled for April 19-21 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.


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