At its third extraordinary session (Geneva, 23-24 June 2022), the Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention elected Mr. Michel Forst as Special Rapporteur on Environmental Defenders, by consensus. The Special Rapporteur’s role is to take measures to protect any person experiencing or at imminent threat of penalization, persecution, or harassment for seeking to exercise their rights under the Aarhus Convention.
Mr. Forst was elected pursuant to decision VII/9 of the Meeting of the Parties establishing a rapid response mechanism for the protection of environmental defenders (ENG FRE RUS) which was adopted by the Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention at its seventh session in Geneva, on 21 October 2021.
This is the first international mechanism specifically safeguarding environmental defenders to be established within a legally binding framework either under the United Nations system or other intergovernmental structure. The decision marks an important step for the advancement of environmental democracy, helping to uphold the universal right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment – which has been recently recognized by the Human Rights Council and UN General Assembly.
Mr. Forst was formerly UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders (2014-2020) and UN Special Rapporteur on Haiti (2008-2013), under the UN Human Rights Council.
The Special Rapporteur can be contacted at: [email protected].