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"Protecting the Andes and Amazon: Rights of Rivers and Forests in Ecuador," by David Cordero, Esq., LACS Seminar Series

Monday, September 26, 2022 at 1:00pm to 2:15pm

Uris Hall, 153

In 2008, the people of Ecuador approved a new constitution that establishes that nature has rights. The rights of nature (RoN) are the product of a biocentric conception defending nature's intrinsic value. The RoN differs from the environmental law because it uses a different approach to the tolerable limits of the impact of human activity. While environmental law is the compromise between business and conservation, RoN creates scientific redlines based on the capability of the ecosystems to self-regenerate. If there is a species extinction risk or permanent damage to the ecosystem cycle, the risky activity should be forbidden.

How are RoN working after ten years? Do legal institutions play the expected role in protecting nature? Does an individual member of a species have rights? Or is the whole specie the right holder? Is it the entire ecosystem? Or is the earth entitled to the rights? The Constitutional Court of Ecuador has been discussing these questions in its jurisprudence for the last three years. We will analyze those decisions that recognize the personhood of rivers and forests and their implications on the broader discussion about sustainability, climate change, and development. Finally, we will discuss the enforceability and impact of the aforementioned jurisprudence in Ecuador. 

David Cordero-Heredia is an Associate Professor of Law at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE). He has been visiting professor at Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar (UASB), Universidad de las Americas (UDLA) and Universidad del Azuay (UDA).

David has represented indigenous peoples and individuals against Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I/A Court HR). The cases include a vast number of topics, including forced disappearances, torture, illegal detentions, massacres, migrants' rights, indigenous peoples' rights, access to free health services, force eviction, mass incarceration, oil & mining industries, fair trial, police brutality, and rights of nature.

Professor Cordero has an LL.B. from PUCE, master's degrees from UASB and Universidad de Alcala, and an LL.M. and a JSD from Cornell University. He is a visiting scholar in Cornell's Latin American and Caribbean Studies program (LACS).

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Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability, Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Latino Studies Program, Anthropology, Government, Natural Resources, City and Regional Planning, Policy Analysis and Management, Landscape Architecture, Development Sociology, Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, Global Learning, International Programs, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program, Global Cornell, Global Development, Law School, Law Library

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Contact Name

Leah Marx


David Cordero, Esq.

Speaker Affiliation

Law School, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador

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Open To

Cornell Community In-Person Free; Free and open to the non-Cornell public virtually via Zoom. In-Person attendance taken for LATA/LSP 4000/6000 course participants.

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