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ECUADOR VS

COLUMBIA
A E R I A L H E R B I C I D E S P R AY I N G
QUICK STATEMENT
OF THE FACTS
• Ecuador informed the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of a dispute
between itself and Colombia concerning the alleged aerial spraying by
Colombia of toxic herbicides
• Ecuador claims that toxic herbicides have caused damages to human
health, property and environment
• Ecuador has also been engaged in border struggles with Colombia
concerning guerilla fighters, which spill over into Ecuador
• Ecuador thus requests the Court to adjudge and declare that
Colombia violated its obligations under international law
ECUADOR’S
CLAIM
• The spraying has already caused serious damage to people, to
crops, to animals, and to the natural environment on the
Ecuadorian side of the frontier, and poses a grave risk of further
damage over time
• Repeated and sustained efforts to negotiate an end to the fumigations
have proved unsuccessful
COLUMBIA’S
CLAIM
• Colombia‘s defense is based on the presence of guerilla fighters near
the borders.
• Colombia adopted “Plan Colombia,” a counter-narcotics plan
emphasizing the use of aerial herbicides along Colombia’s southwest
border, which lies adjacent to Ecuador’s provinces
• Colombia maintains that their use of aerial herbicides is not causing
illnesses in the area.
• Colombia is convinced that the herbicide used in aerial spray of coca
and poppy crops is harmless for human health and the environment
RULING OF
THE COURT
• President of the Court made an Order recording the discontinuance
by Ecuador of the proceedings and directing the removal of the case
from the Court’s List
• It was due to:
– Ecuador wishing to discontinue the proceedings in the case
– Pursuant to Article 89, paragraph 2, of the Rules of Court, Columbia
made no objection to the discontinuance of the case as requested by
Ecuador
TRANSBOUNDARY HARM (IN
THE CASE)
• In the application of Ecuador:
“This case concerns Colombia’s aerial spraying of toxic herbicides at
locations near, at and across its border with Ecuador. The spraying has
already caused serious damage to people, to crops, to animals,
and to the natural environment on the Ecuadorian side of the frontier,
and poses a grave risk of further damage over time”
TRANSBOUNDARY HARM (IN
THE CASE)
• Transboundary harm to humans
– Ecuador claims its citizens developed serious adverse health reactions
including fevers, diarrhea, intestinal bleeding, nausea and a variety of skin
and eye problems
• Transboundary harm to animals
– Reported deaths of poultry and fish were particularly widespread, and
dogs, horses, cows and other animals also became ill.
• Transboundary harm to the Environment
– The unintended destruction of food crops increases deforestation in the
region and inaccurate spraying results in contamination of non-traget
areas
DEFINITION OF
TRANSBOUNDARY HARM
• Arises from a wide range of activities which are carried out in one
country but inflict adverse effects in the territory of another.
• Traditionally, it refers to border-crossing damage via land, water, or air
in dyadic State relations.
• Transboundary damage is also often referred to as environmental
damage, but of a specific type, namely, environmental damage caused
by or originating in one State and affecting the territory of another
ELEMENTS OF
TRANSBOUNDARY HARM
1. the physical relationship between the activity concerned and the
damage caused;
2. human causation;
3. a certain threshold of severity that calls for legal action; and
4. transboundary movement of the harmful effects.
PRECAUTIONARY
PRINCIPLE (IN THE CASE)
• According to UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to the Highest
Attainable Standard Of Health, Paul Hunt:
– There is credible, reliable evidence that the aerial spraying of glyphosate
along the Colombia-Ecuador border damages the physical health of
people living in Ecuador.
– There is also credible, reliable evidence that the aerial spraying damages
their mental health.
– This evidence is sufficient to trigger the precautionary principle.
– Accordingly, the spraying should cease until it is clear that it
does not damage human health.
WHAT IS PRECAUTIONARY
PRINCIPLE
• No singular and uniform definition of the Precautionary Principle
• Most widely supported however is the definition under Principle 15 of
the Rio Declaration
– In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be
widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats
of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be
used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent
environmental degradation
• It is a “better safe than sorry” approach as opposed to a wait-and-see-
strategy
APPLICATION OF THE
PRINCIPLE
• Applied in situations of scientific uncertainty where government
decision-makers have to decide whether, and if so, how they will
counter the possible harm to the environment
• Viewed as an approach towards coping with scientific uncertainties in
risk assessment and management
• Applying this principle would entail giving the environment the benefit
of the doubt
• Operates under the premise that scientific conclusiveness is often too
late to draw up a responsive measure to prevent environmental harm
ELEMENTS OF THE
PRINCIPLE
• There are three basic and common elements that trigger its
application:
1. there must be a threat of damage to the environment;
2. the threat of damage is serious or irreversible; and
3. there is lack of scientific certainty
SOVEREIGNTY ISSUE (IN THE
CASE)
• Colombia has caused the deposit of toxic herbicides on the territory
of Ecuador in quantities that are significant and harmful
• Ecuador has never consented to such deposits and dispersal, either
directly or indirectly
• By allowing these deposits caused by aerial spraying in border areas,
Colombia has violated its international obligations to respect the
territorial sovereignty of Ecuador
DEFINITION OF
SOVEREIGNTY
• Sovereignty means independence from outside control.
• The Montevideo Convention expresses this in positive terms as
including “the capacity to enter into relations with other States.”
• “Sovereignty in the relations between States signifies independence.
Independence in relation to a portion of the globe is the right to
exercise therein to the exclusion of any other state, the functions of
the State” (Memorial for the Applicant)
THE END

T H A N K YO U