Thursday, August 19, 2010

Constitutional Court of Columbia Declares that the US - Columbia 2009 Agreement on Military Bases is Unconstitutional

According to the Colombian Constitutional Court, a recent agreement signed by Colombia and the US that allows US military services to use military bases in Colombia is unconstitutional under the Colombian Constitution. The Court held that signing the November 2009 agreement entailed new duties for Colombia - that is, the agreement is not an extension of already existing duties. That meant that the agreement can only be binding if it is approved by Congress. Thus, the Court asked th Executive to send the agreement to Congress for its ratification - or, of course, for its rejection. The Court did not discuss whether the content of the agreement is consistent with the Constitution; it just pointed out that, procedurally speaking, it would not be binding unless it is ratified by Congress. A summary in Spanish is available here


  1. Martin, we had a similar case in the Philippines over the "Visiting Forces Agreement" with the US military. It somehow passed muster in the Court even if its in the nature of an executive agreement, and not a treaty (which requires congressional concurrence). What did the Colombian court consider as new duties?

  2. Thanks for the question, Anna. The Court mentioned the power to have ships, planes, etc. circulate freely in the country without control by the local government, authorization to bear arms to foreign personell, among others. These were all new duties of the Colombia under the November agreement.


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