Chile's Foreign Minister Andres Allamand confirmed that his country would not sign the Escazu Agreement, the first environmental treaty in Latin America and the Caribbean, which has already been signed by 22 nations.
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As the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) is due to close the signature period on September 26, Allamand said that subscribing to the agreement would be "inconvenient," which is "why the treaty has not been signed yet."
"A decision of this nature must require the best understanding of all sectors that have an interest in the matter," the official said as Chilean authorities debate what it would bring into Chilean environmental legislation.
According to ECLAC, the Escazú Agreement is the first in the world to contain specific provisions on human rights defenders in environmental matters.
"This government is not going to sign the agreement. We have a constituent process to deepen environmental justice, and we have a presidential election where we can elect a government that does sign the Escazu agreement."
Furthermore, the agreement seeks to guarantee access to information, citizen participation, and access to justice in environmental matters in the region.
Thus far, 22 countries have signed the document, and nine have ratified: Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Kitts, and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadine, and Uruguay. However, for the agreement to enter into force, ratification from 11 countries is required.
On the other hand, several environmental activists rejected Sebastián Piñera's government's refusal to sign the understanding. Matías Asún, director of the non-governmental organization Greenpeace Chile said that the decision demonstrated that the government's priority was the businesses rather than transparency or access to information.
Moreover, Chile's former sub-secretary of Environment Jorge Canals said that the decision was a door slammed in the face to Chile's democracy and environmental justice.