This paper argues that the activities of environmental protectors often mitigate climate change, and therefore the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Human Rights Council (HRC) should extend explicit protection to land and environmental defenders on this basis. First, we overview who and where protectors are, what they are protecting, and annual data on protector murders. Next, we examine the case of Berta Cáceres, murdered in Honduras in 2016, to show collusion of state and capital in defender silencing. Then we show how criminalization of defenders is a strategy to undermine their public support, followed by assessment of the powerlessness of international law to hold oppressors accountable. Next, we connect protectors to climate change by indicating mitigation consequences of their work. Finally, we explain a factor common to the UNFCCC and the HRC that precludes their recognition of protectors' activities as mitigation, particularly with respect to women defenders, and make recommendations concerning how international law might more effectively protect defenders.


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pp. 83-109
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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