Ecuador Takes Colombia to the ICJ for Spraying Toxic Herbicides

by Julian Ku

Pardon me for missing this little news item, but the ICJ has another new case: Ecuador has applied to the ICJ over Colombia’s alleged spraying of toxic herbicides over Ecuadorian territory.

Here is what Ecuador is seeking the ICJ to declare:

(a) Colombia has violated its obligations under international law by causing or allowing the
deposit on the territory of Ecuador of toxic herbicides that have caused damage to human
health, property and the environment;
(b) Colombia shall indemnify Ecuador for any loss or damage caused by its internationally
unlawful acts, namely the use of herbicides, including by aerial dispersion, and in particular:
(i) death or injury to the health of any person or persons arising from the use of such
herbicides; and
(ii) any loss of or damage to the property or livelihood or human rights of such persons; and
(iii) environmental damage or the depletion of natural resources; and
(iv) the costs of monitoring to identify and assess future risks to public health, human rights
and the environment resulting from Colombia’s use of herbicides; and
(v) any other loss or damage;

I don’t know enough about this area of law to say whether this is a strong claim. I assume this claim will be brought under customary international law although Ecuador is also invoking the 1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. But this looks like a pretty interesting case, and one worth watching. Ecuador has recently had a run-in with Colombia over its raids on FARC rebels based in Ecuador, but perhaps since such a case would be ugly for both sides (is Ecuador harboring FARC?), no case on that front appears to be contemplated.

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