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L/T/4466
21 September 2018

New Latin American and Caribbean Agreement on Environmental Matters to Open for Signature During Headquarters Treaty Event, 25-28 September

Promoting Human Rights through Multilateral Treaties Focus of Annual Gathering

In a continuing effort to encourage wider participation in the multilateral treaty framework, the United Nations is hosting the annual Treaty Event at its Headquarters from 25 to 28 September.  During the event, Member States are invited to sign multilateral treaties deposited with the United Nations Secretary‑General or become party to them by depositing instruments of ratification or accession.

Coinciding with the seventieth anniversaries of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide as well as of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this year’s Treaty Event is devoted to the promotion of human rights through the multilateral treaty framework.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted 70 years ago, has inspired a rich body of legally binding international human rights treaties committing States to respect and protect human rights around the world,” said Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel.

The Genocide Convention was the very first human rights treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948.  As of today, a total of 149 States have ratified or acceded to the Convention.  Forty-five United Nations Member States have yet to join the Convention — 20 from Africa, 18 from Asia and 7 from the Americas.

“Ratifying the Genocide Convention is a matter of moral obligation toward humanity,” Adama Dieng, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, said at the launch of his appeal for universal ratification last December.  “It represents a recognition of the responsibility of States towards their populations and shows respect for those who have perished as a result of this crime.”

Besides human rights, the highlighted treaties this year also cover terrorism and other criminal matters, law of the sea, disarmament, environmental issues, and the safety of United Nations and associated personnel.

A new regional agreement on environmental matters — the “Escazú Agreement”, named after the place in Costa Rica where it was adopted on 4 March — will open for signature on 27 September.  The Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean is the first regional environmental treaty for Latin America and the Caribbean, the only treaty stemming from the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), the first binding instrument for the protection of human rights defenders in environmental matters, and the first agreement ever concluded under the auspices of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

Several Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and other representatives of Latin American and Caribbean countries are expected to sign the agreement at a high-level ceremony in the Treaty Event area by the United Nations delegates entrance at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 27 September, with remarks by high-level officials of Costa Rica and Chile, and the ECLAC Executive Secretary.

The agreement seeks to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by ensuring that governments, businesses, communities and individuals all have access to timely and reliable information, can participate in decisions that affect them, and have access to justice in environmental matters.  The treaty needs to be ratified by 11 countries before entering into force.

On the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, 26 September, a high-level ceremony will take place at 5 p.m. for States to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted on 7 July 2017.  This first legally binding international instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons has been signed by 60 and ratified by 15 States so far.  It prohibits a full range of nuclear-weapon-related activities, such as undertaking to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, as well as the use or threat of use of these weapons.  The treaty will enter into force 90 days after it has been ratified by at least 50 countries.

The Escazú Agreement and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons are just two of more than 560 multilateral treaties deposited with the Secretary‑General, covering all aspects of the work of the Organization.  The Treaty Event may be used to sign, ratify or accede to any of these treaties.

The Treaty Event has been held annually since the year 2000 and has since then resulted in more than 2,000 treaty-related actions, including signatures, ratifications and accessions.

For more information on the Treaty Event, please visit http://treaties.un.org.

For the Escazú agreement, please visit www.cepal.org/en/escazuagreement.

On social media, follow #StandUp4HumanRights #PreventGenocide #EscazúAgreement #AcuerdoDeEscazú.

Media contact:  Martina Donlon, Department of Public Information, email: donlon@un.org; or tel.: +1 212 963 6816.

For information media. Not an official record.