Andean Community Professors shed new light on the rights of nature and peacebuilding in Latin America

Wednesday, 10th July 2019


Press release no. 2019-03


Professors from the Andean Community broaden knowledge and share critical thought at the meeting "Lectures from Ecuador and Colombia on the rights of nature and peacebuilding in Latin America”


The event taking place today at the University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM) in Toledo, Spain, within the framework of the post-graduate programme "Constitutional Justice, interpretation and application of the Constitution", is the cornerstone of the academic meeting for the development of the OPT-IN Project.


From the perspective of academic cooperation between the Andean Community and the European Union, it is vital to maintain a continued and frequent dialogue on the key issues of the project. The strengthening of this academic collaboration makes it possible to create a broader and more realistic depiction of the present situation of the rights of Nature, with the purpose of promoting peace in the region.


Following the opening address and welcome speech by María José Majano and María Elena Rebato from the University of Castilla- La Mancha (UCLM), Manuel Alberto Restrepo Medina from Del Rosario University (Colegio Mayor de Nuestra Señora del Rosario -  Colombia) will open the conference, followed by scholars María Augusta León, Gina Benavides, Gardenia Chávez and Adriana Rodríguez from the Simon Bolívar Andean University and Iván Narváez from the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO), Ecuador.


Subsequently, Liliana Estupiñán Achury, José Rory Forero Salcedo and Luz Ángela Gómez Jutinico from the Free University of Colombia will present their papers.


"Presentations from Ecuador and Colombia on the rights of nature and peace-building in Latin America"


Conference programme:




- MANUEL ALBERTO RESTREPO MEDINA: "Erasmus + OPT-IN Project presentation and characterization of the peace-building component".



- MARÍA AUGUSTA LEÓN: "Environmental conflicts threatening peace: sharing benefits as compensation for the damage caused by extractive activities in indigenous territories".


- GINA BENAVIDES AND GARDENIA CHÁVEZ: "Social mapping as a tool for the analysis of human rights and the rights of nature".


- ADRIANA RODRÍGUEZ CAGUANA: "The intercultural interpretation of the rights of nature in the High Courts of Ecuador".



- IVÁN NARVÁEZ: "Socio-political governance and environmental hermeneutics".



- LILIANA ESTUPIÑÁN ACHURY: “Transitional Constitutionalism and the making of a Peace Agreement sui generis"


- JOSÉ RORY FORERO SALCEDO: "Differential approaches in peace-building scenarios. Colombia: a special case"


- LUZ ÁNGELA GÓMEZ JUTINICO: "Recognition and protection from sexual violence in the context of armed conflict"


The post-graduate programme "Constitutional Justice, Interpretation and Application of the Constitution" taught by the University of Castilla-La Mancha, in the city of Toledo, Spain, will run until 18th July.



OPT-IN Project


The OPT-IN programme represents an opportunity to promote an exchange between different academic institutions and consolidate a process of horizontal globalization, which considers both society and the needs of the people. The OPT-IN Project, conceived with the support of the European Union's ERASMUS + Programme, aims to develop educational skills regarding the management of peace processes, interculturality and the promotion of the rights of nature. OPT-IN is led by the University of Bologna, Italy, with the active participation of the Simón Bolívar Andean University, Ecuador; the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, Ecuador; the Free University of Colombia, Colombia; the Del Rosario University, Colombia; the University of Bologna, Italy; the University of Siena, Italy; the Paris Institute of Political Science - Science Po, France and the University of Castilla- La Mancha, Spain.



Master’s Degree in the Rights of Nature and Peace:


The Master's Degree in the Rights of Nature and Peace will be an interdisciplinary and critical space to reflect on the present problems of the global world, such as global warming, environmental conflicts, migrations, violence and racism. The Simón Bolívar Andean University (UASB) will be the main hub of this postgraduate programme, which will be launched in 2020.


The Intercultural Transnational Operators (OPT-IN) project is an initiative involving not only member universities, but also several academic, governmental and non-governmental organisations with an interest in the construction of this new master's degree.


The aim is to establish an academic programme that addresses two fundamental themes: The defence of nature and the making of peace.


For in-depth information on our stakeholders click on the links below.


News update: OPT-IN Master's accreditation process moves forward


Within the framework of the OPT-IN Project, last February 2020, the Simon Bolivar Andean University, Ecuador campus, submitted the plan of the Master's Degree in the Rights of Nature and Intercultural Justice to the Council of Higher Education of Ecuador. This plan had previously been approved by their university’s internal body, the Academic Coordination Committee.


This master's degree, a main initiative of the OPT-IN Project, is currently awaiting official accreditation.



New publication:

Nature as a subject of rights in democratic constitutionalism


Presentation of the book "Nature as a subject of rights in democratic constitutionalism", edited by the Free University and other institutions, within the framework of the OPT-IN Project. 



The legal recognition of the rights of Nature is increasingly taking root in the legal systems that take a biocentric turn. This paradigm shift has fostered a reaction from part of the doctrine, intrinsically opposed to the recognition of Nature as a subject of rights. The project addresses two fundamental questions to move forward within the new paradigm: can Nature be a subject of rights? If so, should Nature be a subject of rights? This paper tries to flesh out the rights of nature from the philosophical perspectives of indigenous peoples, as well as from the interaction or convergence between different forms of knowledge, especially those from the Amazon and Kichwa; it seeks to build another knowledge-power to suggest a critique of the dominant one. In order to do so, the project is structured in three parts: criticism, reconstruction and applicability. 

The criticism consists in a theoretical diagnosis from an approach to the dichotomous philosophical foundation that separates the human being from nature by objectifying it. It shows how this dichotomy crosses disciplinary and transdisciplinary studies on the question of the rights of nature.


The reconstruction builds upon Dussel’s metaphysics and attempts to demonstrate the implications of the factual application of this proposal related to learning, apprehending and unlearning through a transdisciplinary and analytical perspective capable of embracing people, plants, animals, water, stones, etc., as a whole in harmony. New perspectives on environmental issues have been presented in different Latin American legal systems. In some cases, the progress made has led to the recognition of the “rights of Nature", which notoriously transcends the anthropocentric rationality that has characterised Western legal doctrine. However, these processes are not exempt from their own challenges and contradictions. For a better understanding of this subject, this paper analyses the normative and jurisprudential developments regarding the ecological question in three scenarios: Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador, highlighting the verifiable foundations of what has been called the "new" Latin American constitutionalism, especially the ecocentric concept represented in the values of Vivir Bien (Bolivia) and Buen Vivir (Ecuador). Following the theoretical basis of some critical approaches, the methodology makes use of regulations, bills and selected court cases from the higher courts of these countries, comparing the development of land ownership legislation with the development of jurisprudence concerning the protection of the rights of Nature. Lastly, this paper refers briefly to cases in which different legal systems have recognized other subjects of rights, in addition to human beings and legal entities.


This essay explores the connection between nature, human beings and law, with some emphasis on human rights.


I will first describe my personal experience concerning the rights of nature up to what now could be called Andean neoconstitutionalism. Secondly, to understand some statements which may appear meaningless without context, let us begin by reminding the reader of something that in natural sciences and history is clear and proven: we share a common origin with the stars and with the rest of the species that inhabit the Earth.

The third part attempts to explain the radical separation of human beings from Nature. Where does this belief that human beings are not animals and that culture is fatally separated from nature come from? There are some explanations within the logic of "hegemonic modernity". In the fourth part, I make a critical approach to the discourse of human rights, maintaining that this discourse can be counterproductive and functional to the separation of human beings from nature, which favours the current system of exploitation of nature.


In the fifth section, I briefly describe the ecological crisis, which takes us to consider the necessity of changing a paradigm that has led us to this catastrophe.

Finally, in a brief summary, I conclude that the best antidote to all crises, from the perspective of law, is called the rights of nature, and I take the liberty of exemplifying some of its consequences for law and human rights.


This paper analyses Montecristi's text and one of its greatest incorporations, that of giving legal personality to nature and making it a subject of rights. The first of the two articles begins with the following words: "Nature or Pacha Mama, where life happens and is originated, has the right to have its existence fully respected...". "Nature has the right", that is to say it is itself a subject whose personality is now recognised, it is the bearer of a number of constitutionally established faculties and immunities. This is undoubtedly the most surprising statement, since the subjective conception of rights, until now, was anthropocentric and based on the reality that only human beings, as rational and autonomous beings, could defend, violate or exercise control over them.  By integrating the Rights of Nature into the Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador in 2008, a historical milestone was set in the country and in global constitutionalism. Despite its overwhelming approval, society is far from being empowered by what this Magna Carta truly represents: a project of living together in peace, which requires new social, economic and political institutions made possible by the constitution. This chapter addresses the possibility of applying the rights of Nature within the framework of Brazil's formal justice system. It presents and analyses the sentence that denied a follow-up to the recognition of the Doce River as a subject of rights in the action proposed before the Federal Justice of Brazil, judicial section of Minas Gerais, issued by the 6th Federal Civil Chamber on September 21st 2018, in the process of Action 1009247-73.2017.4.01.3800. The claim was based on the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Colombia, which recognised the Atrato River, its basin and tributaries as a subject of rights. Furthermore, this work discusses the ruling of the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice, in the so-called Special Appeal action 1.797.175 - SP (2018/0031230-0) that deals with animal rights, based on the rights of Nature. The approach is structured in three experimental perspectives of application: theoretical, legislative and practical.



UCLM organises a discussion on the rights of nature


The Area of Constitutional Law of the University of Castilla-La Mancha promotes a discussion on the rights of nature in the framework of the OPT-IN project.





New edition of the international course-workshop for the rights of nature in Bogota.


As reported in the newsletter of the specialisation and Master’s programmes in Environmental Law and Management of the Del Rosario University, the international seminar on interculturality, construction of peacebuilding and nature protection will be held at the Del Rosario University on October 12th, 13th and 14th.

El proyecto Operadores Transnacionales Interculturales (OPT-IN) tiene el aval de Erasmus PLUS y 8 universidades socias.