Ecuadorian Constitutional Assembly Update: Accomplishments and Challenges

July 01, 2008 | By The Pachamama Alliance

he Ecuadorian Constitutional Assembly is in its final stage of discussing and approving the proposed Constitutional Articles. In June, two important pro-indigenous articles were approved by the Assembly, while other challenges have emerged.

First, the Constitucional Assembly recognized Indigenous Territorial “Circumscriptions” within the political-administrative internal organization of the State. To some indigenous proponents, this article is not necessarily a notable “accomplishment” given that Indigenous Territorial Circumscriptions were already recognized in the 1998 Constitution. That 1998 Article, however, was never put into practice for lack of regulatory laws required to implement Consitutional Rights. Nevertheless, for Fundación Pachamama it is critical that the proposal put forward by Ecuador’s Indigenous Movement, CONAIE, was taken into consideration and approved.

The second important advancement came in the form of formal recognition of the right of indigenous peoples to practice their own judicial systems within their legal “jurisdiction”, i.e., their ancestral territories. Heated debates about the relationship between indigenous justice and Universal Human Rights, such as rights of women, not withstanding, Fundación Pachamama sees the right of Indigenous Peoples to strengthen and put into practice their ancestral forms of justice as a key piece in maintaining the social and cultural fabric that underscores their internal decision-making processes and identity. In essence, recognizing the right of Indigenous Peoples to honor their culturally defined systems of justice is a critical step toward honoring their longstanding relationship amongst themselves and with their socio-cultural environment.

In the face of such important accomplishments, there have been notable challenges which Fundación Pachamama continues to incorporate into its strategies for positively influencing the new Ecuadorian Constitution in favor of fundamental environmental, social and cultural rights. Specifically, internal divisions among Assembly members recently came to head when the Assembly’s President and Pachamama ally, Alberto Acosta, announced he was stepping down from his post. This announcement was made as this version of the New Moon was being written (see:, therefore, it is still unclear what the political implications of this move will be for Ecuador’s Indigenous and environmental movements.