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Facts and Findings

Nature – a Legal Subject: Could the Colombian model work for Germany?

by Marie-Christine Fuchs, Levon Theisen

In sensational rulings, Colombia's High Courts have granted natural features such as the Atrato River and the Colombian Amazon legal personality.

In view of growing climate litigation in Germany, Colombia's jurisprudence, which grants rights to rivers, forests and animals, is getting increasing attention in this country. The German legal tradition is no stranger to recognizing rights in favor of entities that are not natural persons, for example legal persons. However, granting subjective rights in favor of the environment might shift the sovereignty to interpret such rights from the legislature to the courts.

Climate protection is perhaps the greatest challenge of our time. In addition to individual rethinking, it requires global and progressive, but at the same time balanced, solutions. In a series of sensational rulings, Colombia's High Courts have granted natural features such as the Atrato River and the Colombian Amazon legal personality.

The German legal tradition is no stranger to the recognition of rights in favour of entities other than natural persons, for example legal persons. However, whether jurisprudence recognizing subjective rights to nature would mean added value for environmental and climate protection in Germany appears to be questionable. Colombia's High Courts responded to specific challenges in the region: to protect the environment and climate, and to safeguard indigenous and Afro-Colombian minorities whose traditional lifestyle is closely connected to nature, and who want to defend their natural resources. The arguments of the Jurisprudence cannot easily be transferred to other cases, regions or cultures.

Read the article on natural rights for nature here as a PDF.

 

About this series

The series informs in a concentrated form about important positions of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung on current topics. The individual issues present key findings and recommendations, offer brief analyses, explain the Foundation's further plans and name KAS contact persons.

 

Dr. Kristin Wesemann

Dr

Leiterin Stabsstelle Strategie und Planung

Kristin.Wesemann@kas.de + 49 30 26996 3803

Marianne Graumann

Teamleiterin Publikationen, Print und Qualitätssicherung

marianne.graumann@kas.de +49 30 26996 3726 +49 30 26996 53726