Tuesday, April 1, 2008

ICJ: Ecuador Files Application Against Colombia

Yesterday, March 31, Ecuador filed an application with the International Court of Justice concerning a longstanding dispute with Colombia regarding "aerial spraying [by Colombia] of toxic herbicides at locations near, at and across its border with Ecuador," allegedly in violation of Colombia's obligations under international law. In particular, Ecuador claims that "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." Ecuador also states that it has made "repeated and sustained efforts to negotiate an end to the fumigations," but that "these negotiations have proved unsuccessful." Ecuador bases the Court's jurisdiction on Article XXXI of the American Treaty on Pacific Settlement (the Pact of Bogotá) of April 30, 1948, to which both States are parties. Colombia's spraying is part of a counternarcotics program that is funded by the United States. Ecuador's application comes amid tensions between the two countries in the wake of a March 1st Colombian cross-border raid against a FARC camp in Ecuador. The ICJ press release is here; news reports are here, here, and here.

Ecuador requests that the Court adjudge and declare that:

(a) Colombia has violated its obligations under international law by causing or allowing the deposit on the territory of Ecuador of toxic herbicides that have caused damage to human health, property and the environment;

(b) Colombia shall indemnify Ecuador for any loss or damage caused by its internationally unlawful acts, namely the use of herbicides, including by aerial dispersion, and in particular:

(i) death or injury to the health of any person or persons arising from the use of such herbicides; and

(ii) any loss of or damage to the property or livelihood or human rights of such persons; and

(iii) environmental damage or the depletion of natural resources; and

(iv) the costs of monitoring to identify and assess future risks to public health, human rights and the environment resulting from Colombia’s use of herbicides; and

(v) any other loss or damage; and

(c) Colombia shall:

(i) respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ecuador; and

(ii) forthwith, take all steps necessary to prevent, on any part of its territory, the use of any toxic herbicides in such a way that they could be deposited onto the territory of Ecuador; and

(iii) prohibit the use, by means of aerial dispersion, of such herbicides in Ecuador, or on or near any part of its border with Ecuador.