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Decision T-218/17 of April 19, 2017

Jurisdiction: Constitutional Court of Colombia

Side A: San Anterito Citizens (Individual)

Side B: Municipal and State Authorities (Government of Colombia) (Government)

Core objectives: Whether the lack of access to drinking water as a result of a decrease in natural water reservoirs due to climate change and the lack of adequate infrastructure by the Colombian government violated human rights.

Inhabitants of San Anterito, a small Colombian town, filed a “tutela” (amparo mechanism) against municipal and state authorities and water service providers for failing to provide adequate water supply infrastructure. Plaintiffs alleged violation of their fundamental rights to life, water, dignity, and human and environmental health. Specifically, plaintiffs argued that, due to climate change and population increase, natural water reservoirs had dried out and that the government had the obligation to provide basic services, including water. 

The Court found that claimants had a legitimate interest in demanding the government’s protection of their fundamental and human rights, especially the right to water and the right to have an adequate water supply. The Court ordered the Colombian government to ensure adequate enjoyment of the rights to water, life, dignity, and human and environmental health for San Anterito’s inhabitants. The Court said that the State’s duties were intensified by the decrease in natural water reservoirs due to climate change, among other causes. However, before the decision was made, the local government started to provide water to the town’s inhabitants. As a result, the Court declared the issue resolved, but emphasized the importance of the adopted measures in protecting the town’s fundamental rights.

Case documents

from the Grantham Research Institute
from the Grantham Research Institute
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