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Supporting Environmental Defenders in Latin America

For 30 years, and through our work in more than 100 countries, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) and our partners have sought to strengthen legal institutions, support legal professionals, foster respect for human rights, and advance public understanding of the law and citizens' rights.  In Latin America and the Caribbean, ABA ROLI implements  programs focused on human rights; human rights defenders; and human and wildlife trafficking—with respect to environmental defenders, environmental crime, and criminal organizations.

ABA ROLI's Supporting Environmental Defenders in Latin America, is a 24-month program to strengthen regional capacities for coordinated interventions to respond, protect, and prevent human rights violations of Environmental Defenders.

ABA ROLI recognizes that the Amazon region of Latin America is richly biodiverse and plays a fundamental role in global ecosystems and influences global climate change. Global dependence on raw materials from extractive and mining industries, both legally and illegally, exacerbate climate change. Fossil fuels, minerals, and other natural resources exploited through weaknesses in state governance and oversight of companies, public corruption, and the illegal activities of organized criminal networks, have created dangerous conditions for human rights defenders and Environmental Defenders in the Amazon region.

In Latin America, Environmental Defenders are at a higher risk for threats and assassinations. Additionally, there is a higher rate of impunity—as these crimes are increasingly not adequately investigated, and perpetrators are not brought to justice. Women face additional aggravated threats that are specific to their gender, ethnicity, origin, or other characteristics, such as sexual violence, public and political violence, and challenges to defend their right to speak out within their communities and families.

ABA ROLI will administer three specific objectives under the Supporting Environmental Defenders in Latin America program.  Each objective will be accomplished by completion of activities developed to strengthen, bolster and enhance the regional work of Environmental Defenders (ED) and Civil Service Organization (CSOs) leaders in the Amazonian regions of Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Venezuela.