Colombian River Gains Legal Rights

Colombia's Atrato River
Colombia's Atrato River
Produce1895, via Wikimedia Commons

Another river has won legal rights.

In a landmark verdict, Colombia’s Constitutional Court has recognized the Atrato River basin as having rights to “protection, conservation, maintenance and restoration.”

The verdict was reached in November 2016, but only publicized this month. The move marks at least the fourth river this year to receive legal rights. The others include the Whanangui River in New Zealand, and India’s Ganga and Jamuna rivers.

In early 2015, the Colombian group Tierra Digna began a litigation process to defend the Atrato River and the rights of the communities inhabiting its basin. For years, the region has suffered from the ravages of illegal gold mining, which has led to both humanitarian and environmental crises.

The lawsuit was brought in collaboration with the Foro Interétnico Solidaridad Chocó and different Afro-Colombian Community Councils located in the river basin.

This decision aims to offer protection to the Atrato River while simultaneously guaranteeing the fundamental rights of the communities that inhabit its banks. Under this new paradigm, known as “biocultural rights,” the Court has asserted that the most effective way to protect ethnic communities’ rights is through biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration.

Click here to read the ruling in Spanish.

#AtratoVivo: A Map of Human, Environmental and Territorial Rights on the Atrato River
#AtratoVivo: A Map of Human, Environmental and Territorial Rights on the Atrato River
Courtesy of Tierra Digna
Thursday, May 11, 2017