co-violations of rights



(Access the print version here)

This report includes only some of the many co-violations occurring across the globe. We want more stories to be heard. Please submit your own information below for review.

Report Background

Across the globe, governments and corporate entities are harassing, threatening, attacking, imprisoning, and killing defenders of environmental and human rights. Meanwhile, the natural world suffers from escalating threats such as species extinctions, toxic pollution, deforestation, mining, a rapidly changing climate, and many other onslaughts. Many of these harms rise to the level of “co-violations,” which occur when governments, industries, or both, violate both nature’s rights and human rights with the same action.

Berta Cáceres on the sacred Gaulcarque River, by Goldman Environmental Prize

Berta Cáceres on the sacred Gaulcarque River, by Goldman Environmental Prize

Recognizing this alarming trend, in 2015, Earth Law Center (ELC) released its report “Fighting for Our Shared Future: Protecting Both Human Rights and Nature’s Rights,” which examined and analyzed 100 such cases of co-violations of human and environmental rights. The report also made recommendations on how to establish a better future for people and planet.

Since then, a wave of new, increasingly violent cases of rights co-violations have swept across the globe. This includes acts of violence against two Goldman Environmental Prize winners: Berta Cáceres, who was murdered due to her advocacy with the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras against the Agua Zarca Dam and other “mega-dams” that destroy riparian ecosystems, and Maxima Acuña de Chaupe, who was viciously attacked in Peru for her opposition to gold mining within the an Andean tropical cloud forest. These co-violations indicate serious, systemic governance problems in which the “rights” of destructive industries outweigh the fundamental rights and well-being of rights defenders and the Earth.

What we do to the environment we do to ourselves. Human rights and nature’s rights are intertwined and co-dependent; by exploiting and destroying ecosystems and species, we also diminish the quality of human life.

2016 Co-Violations Report Findings

On International Human Rights Day (December 10, 2016) Earth Law Center released its second annual report detailing these and other co-violations of human rights and nature’s rights worldwide. The report analyzes another 100 cases – 200 in total – and highlights many chilling trends.

For example, 28 percent of human rights violations examined involved at least one murder. And 30 percent of examined cases involved harm to indigenous peoples’ rights, despite their comprising only five percent of the population. The recent rise in injustices toward environmental and human rights defenders was deemed a “truly global crisis” by U.N. Special Rapporteur, Michel Forst. Additionally, almost 60 percent of the cases resulted in biodiversity loss, underscoring a recent study alerting that the world is now on track to lose two-thirds of Earth’s animal life by 2020.

The report offers solutions on how to address these harms

ELC's co-violations report includes calls to:

  • recognize the fundamental rights of nature, such as through U.N. adoption of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth;
  • create a comprehensive system to receive information on, monitor, and act upon co-violations to ensure prevention and reparation;
  • formulate an international treaty to prevent and address co-violations by transnational and national business enterprises;
  • ensure full participation and consultation with affected communities; and
  • provide emergency protection to at-risk environmental defenders

What you can do to report a co-violation

(1) You can submit alleged rights violations to the United Nations Special Rapporteurs, who accept and act upon information and send communications to the affected States. Submission procedures for the Special Rapporteurs can be found online at

(2) You can submit cases through Earth Law Center’s online submission form. We will review your case, post it to our online map, and bring awareness through social media. ELC’s co-violations submission form can be found below.

(3) Affected communities can also reach out to other organizations working to bring awareness to and address co-violations including the Global Witness, Environmental Justice Organizations, Liabilities and Trade (EJOLT), The Gaia Foundation, and Yes to Life No to Mining Campaign.

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Other Information


ELC invites the public to submit information on additional co-violations. Please include a summary below, including any relevant links, and we will review the case promptly.

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