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The Yukpa Peoples and the right to free, prior and informed consent

The Yukpa Indigenous Peoples, recognized as nomadic and semi-nomadic groups in Colombia, have been directly impacted by mining activities conducted by companies like Drummond and Prodeco in the Cesar region. These companies began operating in the area without seeking the Yukpa's opinion, even though the land is considered by the Yukpa as ancestral territory.

Yukpa representatives filed an acción de tutela against the state institutions and the two mining companies. Acción de tutela is a legal action in Colombia that allows individuals to seek protection in court when they believe their fundamental rights are being violated by public or private entities

Collaboration between UvA and Javeriana University

The UvA's Business and Human Rights Clinic was asked to prepare an amicus curiae brief by the Clínica Juridica sobre Derecho y Territorio of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá. This brief aimed to analyze whether the decisions made in the lower courts adhered to the international legal framework regarding the protection of territories belonging to nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples.

The amicus brief argued that:

  1. The Yukpa people are recognized as nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples and as indigenous peoples, which implies that they benefit from the special protection extended to indigenous people in the international and regional legal framework.
  2. The State has the obligation to protect the Yukpa people’s right to use the lands they have traditionally occupied and used, including those used to perform their ancestral cultural activities.
  3. The Yukpa people have the right to reparations if their right to prior consultation and Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) is violated. Conducting a consultation is the effective way to address this, according to the standards set by the Constitutional Court of Colombia. Download the English version of the amicus curiae brief (pdf).

As a result of the Court's decision, the mining companies and state authorities were ordered to start the consultation process, which they had failed to do before starting the projects. The Court explicitly considered the students' arguments in its ruling. Download the decision, in Spanish (pdf).

In a press released published by the Yukpa leadership, the Yukpa people publicly thanked the Clínica Juridica sobre Derecho y Territorio of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá and the Business and Human Rights Clinic of the UvA. Download the press release, in Spanish (pdf).

The Yukpa people thank the Honorable Constitutional Court for defending our fundamental, territorial, cultural and environmental rights, the Legal Clinic of the Universidad Javeriana and the Business and Human Rights Legal Clinic of the University of Amsterdam

UvA students’ experiences

On the clinical experience, Giorgos Porfyridis said:

‘While pursuing a career in finance law, the work in the clinics helped me think outside the complex regulatory landscape and reminded me of the value and responsibility of legal professionals in upholding social justice.’

Paula Álvarez Vidal added:

‘This project demonstrated to me the significance and impact that students, and young people in general, can have when they are empowered and provided with opportunities. I am deeply grateful for having received this opportunity and for being able to contribute to a meaningful cause.’