Senators of the Green Alliance Party (Partido Alianza Verde) of Colombia are calling for President Iván Duque to ratify the Escazú Agreement. It is the first multilateral environmental agreement in Latin America and the Caribbean – and in the world – that would protect human rights defenders in environmental matters.
To date, the treaty has been ratified in 9 countries. However, it must be ratified by at least 11 States to enter into force and become legally binding.
This comes as the Colombian Congress is scheduled to meet on October 14 for the presentation of the Escazú Agreement to the Senate and House. The months prior have seen a lead up of opposition from within congress against the treaty. Opposing parties cite the effect on mining, energy and transport sectors. Another source of controversy, the scope of the precautionary principle and how far it will reach.
A Powerful Instrument in Potential
The Escazú Agreement in Latin America and the Caribbean – more formally the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters – was adopted March 4, 2018, in Escazú, Costa Rica.
Its objective? To guarantee the full and effective implementation of rights of access to environmental information. More importantly, public participation in environmental decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters.
The Escazú Agreement is the only binding agreement stemming from the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). The agreement, since September 2018, has been signed by 24 out of the 33 countries it was opened to. To date, it has been ratified in 9 countries. The treaty must be ratified in at least 11 countries to enter into force and become legally binding.
Following public pressure against the Iván Duque government, Colombia joined the list of signatory countries in December 2019. One of the last countries to do so, followed by Belize and Dominica just last month, the formal adoption of the agreement is now facing pushback from within the congress.
Alianza Verde Senators Speak Out
Antonio Sanguino Páez is one of nine senators from the Green Alliance Party who holds a seat in the Colombian Senate. In a Congress Virtual Session last Tuesday, Páez argued for the ratification of the Escazú Agreement. This is in light of the recent debate to ban mega-mining of gold in the Santurbán Badlands, which would protect drinking water aquifers from high risk contamination.
Green Alliance Senator Jorge Eduardo Londoño, previous Minister of Justice and Law in Colombia, shared a petition to President Iván Duque and the Congress through social media.
The Second Commissions of the Congress will be meeting October 14 for the presentation of the Escazú Agreement by the National Government to the Senate and House.
The second meeting of all signatory countries occurs in less than two months, on December 9-10, 2020.