Atrato River

Atrato River (Quibdó - Chocó, Colombie)

Decision T-622 by the Constitutional Court in 2017

In 2017, the Constitutional Court of Colombia ruled in favour of T-622, which established an exceptional judicial precedent in recognizing the Atrato River as a subject of law. Given the protection of equality and equal rights, all Colombian rivers that meet the same criteria as the Atrato River should be granted equal recognition. This criteria includes the existence of a water source; the risk or state of contamination; an intrinsic relationship with the surrounding community, and the claim to a biocultural right.

Thus, it is important that we think about ruling T-622 in the context of similar cases in Colombia. 

It should however be mentioned that the criteria for a subject of law proposed by Christophe Stone in Should Trees Have Standing? are significantly less demanding. According to Stone, evidence of independent harm from Nature is sufficient to recognize the legal status of Nature as a subject of law.

 Evidently, it is crucial that we determine the best criteria for identifying a subject of law, but that we do so alongside all affected communities. These problems are the subject of our research at OIDN.