The scale of attacks against land rights defenders is particularly preoccupying and should attract our utmost reaction and urgent mobilisation.
The toll they pay, together with their families and communities, is dramatic,
be it killings, forced disappearances, harassment or criminalisation. Caught
in the crossfire between poor land users fighting for the respect of their basic
human rights and powerful economic actors fighting for juicy profits, they
account as one of the most vulnerable categories of human rights defenders.
This particular vulnerability is due to various factors including the fact
that they challenge important economic interests pushed by powerful
actors such as States and corporations, the fact that they generally operate
in remote areas in which the rule of law is weak and the access to protection
mechanisms is difficult. Moreover, land rights defenders operate within a
weak legal framework governing land rights and land deals, in a global
context of intense pressures over land and resources.
Behind attacks against them, the situations on which they intervene
are those where authorities are shunning their obligation to ensure the
fulfilment of their human rights obligations. This, in turn, portrays a world
where development plans and investments impacting on land, are made
at the expense of the local users who depend on these lands for their
survival. Authorities and political actors often favour economic actors, be
they national or transnational ones, at the expense of the rights of their
The balance of power becomes dramatically unequal and the efforts to
bring the respect for human rights at the centre of so-called development
are clearly insufficient...
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