U´wa Indigenous Community / Precautionary Measures. Case Nº 11.754. [ENG]

Petition denouncing development of oil project in indigenous land without consultation with indigenous communities. Request of precautionary measures to prevent oil project. Start of friendly settlement process.

Inter-American Comission on Human Rights
Type of Forum: 

The Ombudsman filed a protection action against the Colombian Ministry of Environment and Sociedad Occidental de Colombia Inc. on behalf of the U'wa People, seeking revocation of an oil development license granted to the said company affecting traditional indigenous land (see in this database “Defensor del Pueblo, doctor Jaime Córdoba Triviño (on behalf of several members of U'WA Indigenous Group) vs. Ministerio del Medio Ambiente y Occidental de Colombia, Inc. s. Acción de tutela”). The Colombian court ordered a consultation should take place within 30 days. At the same time, the U'wa people denounced the State of Colombia before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) alleging the consultation had not been adequately conducted and the necessary measures to protect their personal, cultural, economic and environmental integrity had not been taken. The petitioners requested the IACHR to adopt precautionary measures to prevent the oil project from being developed in indigenous land, because the U'wa people consider its whole territory, including the subsoil, to be sacred. Negotiations thus started to find a solution for the conflict.

Keyowrds: U´wa Indigenous Community / Precautionary Measures. Case Nº 11.754, Indigenous, People's, Rights

Enforcement of the Decision and Outcomes: 

Within the framework of the said process, a work team was formed together with Harvard University's Program on Non Violent Sanctions and Cultural Survival (PONSACS). The team recommended the suspension of the oil project and a prior consultation. An official meeting of the parties is still pending; the objective of the meeting is to discuss the terms of the prior consultation process, which could take place during 2005.

Groups involved in the case: 

Roberto Afanador Cobadoría, President of Asociación de Cabildos Mayores del pueblo U´wa, on behalf of the U´wa people, Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia –ONIC- , and Coalition for Amazonian Peoples and their Environment

Significance of the Case: 

The intervention of the IACHR led to the initiation of a friendly settlement process. In the context of this process, the State of Colombia had to design an adequate prior consultation procedure ensuring adequate protection of indigenous interests.