Judgment of the Inter-American Court in the Case of The Inhabitants of La Oroya vs. Peru: A Major Advance for the Protection of Human Rights and the Right to a Healthy Environment

On November 27, 2023, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights delivered its judgment in the case opposing the inhabitants of La Oroya against Peru. Through this judgment, the Court established the international responsibility of the Peruvian state for the violations of human rights of 80 residents of La Oroya, affected by the pollution resulting from the operations of the La Oroya Metallurgical Complex (CMLO). This decision illustrates a reinforced commitment to the recognition and protection of human rights and the right to a healthy environment in the face of harmful industrial activities.

The Court’s decision unveils the multiple dimensions of human rights violations suffered by the inhabitants of La Oroya, a Peruvian town severely polluted by mining and metallurgical activities. The failures of the Peruvian state, through its inability to effectively regulate toxic emissions and to ensure adequate environmental standards, have caused serious harm to fundamental rights to health, life, personal integrity, and a healthy environment.

The judgment of the Inter-American Court marks a crucial milestone in strengthening jurisprudence related to the protection of the environment as an indispensable component of human rights. By holding Peru responsible for violating environmental standards, this judgment highlights the obligation of states to prevent environmental damages that affect the health and well-being of their citizens.

This decision also signifies significant progress in recognizing the right to information and public participation in environmental matters, fundamental elements for the exercise of human rights. It underscores the necessity for states to ensure that citizens are informed and involved in decisions affecting their environment and health.

The judgment of the inhabitants of La Oroya vs. Peru sends a strong signal to states and corporations about the importance of respecting human rights in the context of economic activities. It calls for increased vigilance and proactive action to prevent environmental harms that could compromise the health and safety of individuals.

Furthermore, this judgment encourages a profound reflection on the mechanisms of responsibility and reparation in cases of environmental damage, insisting on the need for integrated approaches and sustainable solutions for the protection of human rights.

The judgment of the Inter-American Court in the case of the inhabitants of La Oroya against Peru represents a major advance in the fight for the protection of human rights against contemporary environmental challenges. It reaffirms the primacy of fundamental human rights over economic and industrial interests and strengthens the international legal framework for the protection of the environment and public health on a global scale. This historic decision sets a major precedent, highlighting the urgency of responsible and enlightened environmental and human governance for current and future generations.





Hennebel Avocats specializes in complex and global legal litigation in public international law, international human rights law, and international and transnational criminal law, with a particular focus on Inter-American human rights law.


Inter-American Court of Human Rights – International Responsibility – Human Rights – Healthy Environment – Industrial Pollution – La Oroya Metallurgical Complex (CMLO) – Mining and Metallurgical Activities – Environmental Standards – Public Health – Right to Life – Personal Integrity – Prevention of Environmental Damage – Right to Information – Public Participation – Environmental Governance – Proactive Action – Mechanisms of Responsibility – Damage Reparation – Contemporary Environmental Challenges – International Legal Framework – Primacy of Fundamental Rights – Legal Protection – Strengthened Commitment – State Responsibility – Corporate Responsibility

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