Rivers with rights? Social and environmental conflict in Colombia

University of Glasgow, Yudowitz Lecture Theatre, Wolfson Medical School Building
University Avenue
Glasgow G12 8QQ
United Kingdom
Wednesday, 7 February, 2018 - 17:00 to 19:00

Colombia has experienced one of the most protracted civil conflicts in the world, lasting over fifty years and  resulting in a high death toll, widespread displacement, and deep social scars. On 27 September 2016, the Colombian Government signed an historic peace agreement with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People’s Army (FARC-EP), the main guerrilla group.  While the cessation of FARC-EP violence has brought with it great hope for peace, the complexity of the Colombian conflict and the persistence of a variety of legal and illegal armed groups also presents very real challenges.

Instead of dissipating with the peace agreement the ‘humanitarian crisis has got worse’ for the citizens of the Chocó department (UMAIC, 2017), the poorest and most ethnically diverse region of the country. As one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, Chocó has attracted legal and illegal speculators who engage in extraction of natural resources. One of the most devastating of these has been gold mining which has caused widespread environmental destruction and displacement, particularly of riverine communities.  As a result of community activism,  the Colombian Constitutional Court passed a unique sentence  in 2017 which acknowledges ‘the inherent interdependency between the environment and communities ‘  of Chocó. Sentence T-622 specifically recognises the Atrato River as a bearer of rights alongside the recognition that communities’ identities and livelihoods cannot be separated from it.  This ruling has generated a new paradigm of rights in Colombia. Founded in the idea of a sustainable socio-environment, these have been expressed as ‘bio-cultural’ rights.  These rights are cornerstones for building sustainable and peaceful communities in the Atrato Basin and wider Chocó bio-region, and also ensure that the river too is a bearer of rights.

This public lecture features contributions from community leader Bernardino Mosquera Palacios, the Diocese of Choco Sterlin Londono Palacios, and Mauricio Cabrera Leal of WWF Colombia who will give an overview of the current situation in Chocó and the challenges and opportunities presented by the nascent peace process.

The event forms part of the Choco River Stories Glasgow workshop, which is bringing together activists and academics from Colombia with scholars and NGO representatives based in the UK in a two-day event (8-9th February 2018) at the University of Glasgow.

Please register at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/rivers-with-rights-social-and-environment... (for catering purposes).

In association with ABColombia, SCIAF, and WWF Colombia.
N.B. Event in Spanish with translation.

Kind regards,

David Wright
Networks Administrator

Research Strategy and Innovation Office
11 The Square
University of Glasgow

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