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Revista Derecho del Estado

Print version ISSN 0122-9893


RICHARDSON, WHITNEY  and  BUSTOS, CAMILA. Implementing Nature's Rights in Colombia: The Atrato and Amazon Experiences. Rev. Derecho Estado [online]. 2023, n.54, pp.227-275.  Epub Feb 04, 2023. ISSN 0122-9893.

Nature's rights approaches are being developed as an alternative legal means to enable justice for nature and, oftentimes, humans, too. This study examines Colombia's two seminal court-ordered nature's rights approaches which recognize ecosystems-the Atrato River Basin (2016) and the Colombian Amazon (2018)-as a legal subject with rights to protection, maintenance, conservation, and restoration. Developed as remedies for human rights violations, both cases offer opportunities to explore variations in nature's rights approaches and the relationship between efforts to enable justice for humans and nature. We build on existing scholarly engagement with the cases by contributing a detailed archival study on their implementation complemented by a few interviews with key actors, as well as by evaluating implementation of the rulings using environmental and ecological justice frameworks to determine to what degree they have enabled justice for humans and nature to date. We argue that the Atrato River Basin and Colombian Amazon nature's rights approaches currently fall short of their aims to enable justice for both humans and nature. Thus far, interpretation and implementation of the rulings have yet to fulfill court orders and, in some cases, have perpetuated injustices.

Keywords : Nature's rights; climate change; ecological justice; environmental justice; strategic litigation; Colombian Amazon; Atrato River; Colombia.

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