The Escazú Agreement is the first treaty for the Latin America and the Caribbean region with standards for access rights: access to information, public participation and access to justice – with special provisions for vulnerable groups and environmental human rights defenders. The fifteen countries signatories to the agreement to date include Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Grenada, Guyana, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Uruguay. These countries must ensure the treaty’s effective implementation, build the capacity of public authorities to fulfill their treaty obligations and raise public awareness of its importance.

This report analyzes gaps in current country law, policy, and the application of access rights for the most vulnerable groups and environmental defenders, identifying their needs as well as mechanisms to facilitate their access rights under equal conditions. The report achieves this through a comparison of case studies written by partners in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, and Saint Lucia.

Key Findings:

  • While there has been regional advances in public legal recognition of access rights, targeted advances for vulnerable groups and environmental human rights defenders across all the access rights were limited in scope and effectiveness.
  • These barriers include a lack of timely, comprehensive and easy-to-understand information about projects; lack of fair participation procedures; lack of timely, cost-effective provisions for access to justice; and failure to provide effective measures for the protection of environmental human rights defenders.
  • Failing to implement access rights can exacerbate conflicts between local communities and Indigenous Peoples, on the one hand, and companies and governments, on the other, particularly concerning land use and important natural resources.
  • The report includes specific access to information, public participation, and access to justice recommendations for government, civil society, and funders that will help overcome the barriers that prevent the most vulnerable from exercising their access rights effectively.


Preview image by Diego Rodriguez via