Territory is Everything: Afro-Colombian Communities, Human Rights and Illegal Land Grabs

Colombia Human Rights Law Review, Online Volume 4, Forthcoming

23 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2020

See all articles by Rebecca M. Bratspies

Rebecca M. Bratspies

City University of New York - School of Law

Date Written: April 3, 2020

Abstract

Afro-Colombian women are at the vanguard of human rights advocacy in Colombia. They are also the population most vulnerable to human rights violations stemming from loss of their traditional territories. These territories are guaranteed to them both under international human rights law and under domestic Colombian law. Nevertheless, the Colombian government has largely failed to fulfill its obligation to protect, promote and realize these rights. This paper will explain the nature and source of the land rights in question, document how those rights are being violated, and propose a path forward for respecting Afro-Colombian territorial rights through implementation of the peace process. The paper focuses on three main drivers of the land-related human rights violations that the Afro-Colombian community is suffering: illegal mining, illegal cocoa plantations, and mega projects improperly sited in traditional Afro-Colombian territories without their consent or even consultation.

This article details how all three of these phenomena bring violence and pollution to the Afro-Colombian territories. It documents how this violence and pollution involves state conduct that violates the Colombian government’s clear responsibilities to Afro-Colombian communities under domestic and international law. This article ends with some concrete suggestions for redressing this situation.

Keywords: Land Grab, Palm Oil, Coca, Territory, Sovereignty, Indigenous, Afro-Descendent, Afro-Colombian, Human Rights, Equality, Land, Communal Land Rights

JEL Classification: K32, Q2, Q34, Q38, Q15, Q56, F54, F64

Suggested Citation

Bratspies, Rebecca M., Territory is Everything: Afro-Colombian Communities, Human Rights and Illegal Land Grabs (April 3, 2020). Colombia Human Rights Law Review, Online Volume 4, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3568177

Rebecca M. Bratspies (Contact Author)

City University of New York - School of Law ( email )

2 Court Square
Long Island City, NY 11101
United States

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