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A Nigerian Environment activist, Mr Nnimmo Bassey, who is the Chairman of Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) and co-founder, Environmental Rights Action (ERA), has been named the recipient of The 2012 Rafto Prize Award by the Norwegian human rights group.
The award, according to its organisers, Rafto Foundation for Human Rights, was awarded to Nnimmo Bassey, “in recognition of his long-term fight for people’s right to life, health, food and water in a world affected by complex and threatening climate change and mass environmental destruction.
The award will be formally presented to Bassey on Sunday, November 4, at the National Venue of Theatre in Bergen, Norway. Also, the foundation said apart from the recognition, the Rafto Prize laureate receives a diploma and prize money of 20,000 USD.
“Through his rights-based work and criticism of prevailing systems, Bassey has shown how human rights can help mitigate the effects of these changes.
“Nnimmo Bassey links human rights to the climate by demonstrating how climate change has the greatest effect on the world’s most vulnerable people, the very people who have contributed least to the problem in the first place.”
Rafto Foundation said by awarding its annual prize to Nnimmo Bassey, it underlines “how the challenges we face regarding climate and the environment also have a human rights aspect. This, it said ,serves as a reminder which is necessary “following the loss of focus on these issues in the wake of the disappointment over the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009 (COP15) and the annual follow-up conferences.”
The human rights group made reference to Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which it said states that ”everyone has the right to life.”
As a result, Rafto Foundation stressed that “when the international community is not able to negotiate binding climate agreements that can safeguard fundamental human rights, national governments must assume the responsibility.”
The Rafto Foundation for Human Rights established in 1986 in memory of Thorolf Rafto, who until his death, was a professor of Economic History at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) and a human rights activist, is a group run by a small team of professionals and volunteers based in Bergen, Norway.
The main objective of the foundation is “the promotion of freedom of political expression and enterprise,” while its work consists of different educational and informative projects, including the annual award of the Rafto Prize in November.
The 54-year-old Bassey, a qualified architect with 10 years of practice in the public sector, was born precisely on June 11, 1958.
He became active on human rights issues in the 1980s as a member of the Board of Directors of Nigeria’s Civil Liberties Organisation.
In 1993, he co-founded Environmental Rights Action (ERA), a Nigerian advocacy Non-governmental Organisation (NGO), to deal with environmental human rights issues in Nigeria.
Nnimmo Bassey’s work as Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action in Nigeria and Chair of Friends of the Earth International has turned him into one of Africa’s leading advocates and campaigners for the environment and human rights.
Bassey has stood up against the practices of multinational corporations in his country and the environmental devastation they leave behind destroying the lives and ignoring the rights of the local population.
According to Rafto Foundation, “a report from 2009 on Human Rights and Climate by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights states that the consequences of climate change are very unevenly felt.
“They have a much greater effect on poor countries and regions, that is, the people who are least well-equipped to deal with such consequences. It is also these who have contributed least to the damaging CO2 emissions and human-induced climate change.”
This, the foundation said, is a key point in Nnimmo Bassey’s work to promote climate justice.
In this way, Nnimmo Bassey links climate and environmental issues as a human rights matter to poverty and other social and economic issues.
Hence, by awarding the Thorolf Rafto Memorial Prize for 2012 to Nnimmo Bassey, the Rafto Foundation said it gives support to his work in the organisations Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) and Environmental Rights Action (ERA).Share