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Colombian Constitutional Court: “Amparo” action against an oil project license

Geographic relevance: Colombia

Language: English

Data type: Legal references

Author(s): ESCR-Net

Publication details: ESCR-Net Caselaw Database  03.02.1997 (date of court judgment)

About this resource:

Ruling by the Constitutional Court of Colombia on the right of indigenous peoples to participate through consultations in decisions that may affect them. The court ruled on Feb 3 1997 that consultations with indigenous people on economic and development projects affecting their land are fundamental rights of the peoples concerned.

The Colombian Ministry of Environment (“Ministerio del Medio Ambiente”) granted a license to the Sociedad Occidental de Colombia Inc. for development of an oil project.

Jaime Córdoba Triviño, the Colombian Ombudsman (“Defensor del Pueblo”) brought a legal action (“amparo”)  seeking the revocation of that license on behalf of an indigenous community of the U’wa people.

In a highly significant judgment, the Constitutional Court ruled on Feb 3 1997 in favour of the applicant. It declared that meaningful consultation with local indigenous peoples was a fundamental right where their communities were affected.

This decision is considered an important step in defending the rights of indigenous peoples in land disputes and other matters. It is particularly important within Latin America, where oil projects are often developed in indigenous land without due respect for the rights of local communities.

This article from the ESCR-Net Caselaw Database gives a brief review of the background to the case, the judgement and its significance. It also provides a pdf version of the full text of the court decision (in Spanish).

Online Access: View resource