Impact in Law, Policy and Regulation



  • CIVISOL successfully contributed information and compared law arguments to support congress members' initiative of amending the criminal code in order to also penalize the demand, the clients of prostituted children.
  • CIVISOL was designated by the Constitutional Court as the Monitoring Organization for the Observance of Decision T-291
    CIVISOL was designated by the Constitutional Court as the Monitoring Organization for the Observance of Decision T-291 and its judicial orders to formalize poverty trapped waste pickers as entrepreneurs to operate garbage collection of an inorganic and potentially recyclable nature and its elimination by marketing it to the national and multinational industry of the city. ( Judicial order # 12, Consitututional Ruling T-291-03)
  • CIVISOL's role as active civil society and socioeconomic human rights defender was recognized by the Constitutional Court
    CIVISOL’s role as active civil society and socioeconomic human rights defender was recognized by the Constitutional Court by way of its invitation to continue to defend waste pickers rights, and to provide policy support to the governmental reform ordered to an Ad Hoc Committee integrated and set by the Court to Reform Municipal Waste Management
  • CIVISOL's arguments to the Court resulted in the recognition of waste pickers's right to formal access and a right to work as municipal waste service providers in the form of social enterprises of the solidarity economy in view of securing their right to life or survival and to formal development
    CIVISOL’s arguments to the Court resulted in the recognition of waste pickers’ right to formal access to recyclable materials, and a right to work as municipal waste service providers in the form of social enterprises of the solidarity economy in view of securing their right to life or survival and to formal development. Built around CIVISOL’s theory of change, the case for legally empowering waste pickers in povety was a ninety-page motion complemented with audiovisual evidence raised in early 2009 to the Constitutional Court of Colombia. It resulted in the Constitutional Decision T-291-09 and a set of orders to the National, Provincial, and Local governement for reforming the Santitation and Waste Management Policy first, and then the corresponding public tender which would procure private waste management services. The T-291-09 ruling of April, the municipal agreememt of reform of september, and the amended Terms of Reference of the Public Tender constitute the 2009 standard of waste pickers’ rights to formalization within the public service of sanitation and the circular economy.
  • CIVISOL petitioned for rigor, fairness and transparency in the structuring of costs that were being charged to each household as the provision of solid waste servicing by the municipality through its bimonthly invoice
    Every Colombian household, under the concept of a public utilities invoice, must pay for the distance (klm) and weight (kg) of the garbage it generates and the State has to collect door to door in order to evacuate it and technically eliminate it. The waste tariff structure, collection and payment is so constant and automatic that not many are awarded or interested by it. The Superintendence of Water and Sanitation took note of the petition and later fixed the undue charges made by the Bogota municipality which had been imposing contributions to a sports fund via waste management invoicing.
  • CIVISOL contributed arguments for an abstract review of the law and won a favorable court interpretation regarding the need of levelling the playing field of nonprofit legal persons with for-profit legal persons in their right to compete for public procurement opportunities
    This case and ruling enabled civil society organizations of the social and solidarity economy to compete by offering/bidding their goods/services, and become contractors of the State/Municipality for providing, for instance, services of urban garbage collection, evacuation and elimination. Alongside other Colombian professionals acting in solidarity with and for Colombian waste pickers, CIVISOL’s founder crafted arguments requesting to strike down the legal barrier preventing solidaristic organizations of a nonprofit legal nature, which are typically formed by associated people in poverty, to grant them access (in equal standing as for-profit organizations) to compete in the big market economy and public procurement processes. Arguments raised to the Constitutional Court revealed unequal treatment given by the State to non-profit legal persons in respect to for-profit legal persons, and sustained that it is precisely around not-for-profit structures that citizens who lack capital organize and empower to step out of poverty. Public Procurement of the State should remove automatic barriers limiting the entrance and competition of nonprofits for contracts and instead lever the economic entrance of the organized vulnerable population in the market. This is the case and ruling that enabled the legal empowerment of nonprofit organizations of vulnerable civil society such as those of the poverty-trapped and informal waste pickers. With the market barrier removed, waste pickers could begin to walk the path toward their formalization as municipal waste service providers.
  • CIVISOL successfully implemented an experimental litigation strategy to contest an unfair tender process, by attacking not the tender process or its bidding documents as such, but the pre-contractual phase of it. The phase in which studies and drafts must root public policy and subsequent public procurement in constitutional rights and principles.
    CIVISOL’s founder structured a successful strategy to prevent unlawful public procurement on the grounds that it violated pro-poor constitutional obligations in policy making. We at CIVISOL term this “the legal impoverishing of the poor.” The case revealed revealing human rights and constitutional omissions in administrative and public procurement law. The primary evidence was bidding documents that created an irremediable prejudice that required the urgent intervention of the Court by a writ of human rights protection to the right of life or survival through the informal and traditional trade of the waste picking. The motion filed by waste pickers with other lawyers was rejected by the judge a quo. CIVISOL’s founder crafted arguments for the ad quem which were unadmitted. She then sought for an insistence petition in front of the Ombuds office among others so as to obtain the Court’s attention and selection for review of the ruling, an action of certiorari. The judge admitted CIVISOL’s arguments and agreed to its request of an affirmative action or special measure of inclusion of waste pickers by trade and in poverty in Colombia’s public service of sanitation and urban waste management system. Later on the Congress reflected and stabilized such achievement in the Public Procurement Code.
  • CIVISOL successfully advanced arguments for the legal empowerment of waste pickers in the waste management economy by requesting a special measure of inclusion or affirmative action of their right to life or survival within and through access to waste and work in the waste management sector. This argument was based on the privatizable nature of this public utility and the growing waste economy developing around urban sanitation
    The precarious situation of informal waste pickers was explained and presented by CIVISOL’s founder in front of the Court in a petition signed by waste picker leaders and providing evidence of their failed efforts to effectively participate in public decision making in waste management and the governmental disregard to their survival work around urban sanitation and a livelihood fully connected with access to the torrent of inorganic and potentially recyclable waste. In response the Court ruled that waste management decisions must not jeopardize Waste Pickers’ right to life or survival, nor increase their marginality. This ruling was important due to the emergence of competition from private businesses that sought to take over recycler’s traditional role. [Ma2] The state had made superficial efforts at creating alternative livelihoods for displaced waste pickers, providing some of them with jobs that were not related to recycling. Their traditional reality as waste pickers by trade and tradition was not acknowledged, however. Additionally, their cooperatives were not allowed to bid in the public tender, due the narrow terms of reference. Waste pickers were to that end completely shut out of their soul survival niche. The Court ruled that the State must recognize and protect waste pickers’ economy and existence when drafting urban waste systems. Admitting CIVISOL arguments the Court ordered to protect waste pickers by henceforth drafting inclusive policy in waste management.
  • CIVISOL advanced arguments for deepening the 2003 precedent and creating affirmative actions for waste pickers. It requested that the operation of municipal collection and processing of inorganic waste be reserved for waste picker organizations operating under the principles of the solidarity economy and autonomous entrepreneurship. CIVISOL’s successful petition guaranteed their right to life and development within the formal mainstream economy that is planned, regulated and procured directly by the state, regardless if it eventually was operated directly by a municipal company or indirectly by a concession to private company.
    Inclusion in the system had not been implemented despite the 2003 precedent. CIVISOL raised a new case before the Constitutional Court–a theory of change aimed to graduate informal waste pickers in poverty into the formal law and economy of municipal solid waste management. CIVISOL changed the 2003 strategy in 2009 (from inclusion to reservation) and requested the State to safe keep the traditional niche of survival of extreme poor waste pickers for their formal contracting and operation as service providers of the municipality. This decision was made in the light of the fact that there was no formal selective waste recycling in place in the country. CIVISOL requested that the recycling trade be reserved for traditional and informal waste pickers. This meant that the traditional waste system concessions operated by the formal economy of corporate investors would not be expanded to absorb and operate the upcoming routes and infrastructure, but safe-kept for the exclusive or preferential concession or operation of the social and solidarity economy of organized waste pickers in poverty. Such innovation would only be possible in so far as waste as an economic sector was tightly regulated by the State and that there were preexisting waste picker organizations and enterprises. CIVISOL argued that rethinking and correcting inequity by fair regulation and operation of sectors such as waste management by adopting special measures of inclusion would secure constitutional efficacy down to the grassroots level in the form of human rights protection for the most vulnerable and result, if real and effective, in structural poverty reduction.
  • CIVISOL successfully argued and obtained a constitutional court authorization imparted to the government allowing for the waste collection route to be split in two so as to reserve the new inorganic and potentially recyclable waste for organized waste pickers.
    This was later implemented by the Ad Hoc Committee consensus of September 2009, controlled by the Congress of Colombia and duly reflected by the reformed tenders of reference of the December 2009 waste tender process.
  • CIVISOL successfully requested and obtained a constitutional court request for civil society to act in solidarity and as active citizens in poverty reduction by separating and ceding the property of their inorganic and potentially recyclable waste to the traditional waste pickers working in their neighborhood, who depended on access to their waste for survival and development.
    This was a temporary measure while the new municipal public recycling service operated by them was planned, deployed, contracted and operationalized.
  • CIVISOL successfully deepened the 2003 precedent, legally empowering the coops and other nonprofits created by waste pickers to self-organize and self-govern their associated work through the solidarity economy. CIVISOL accompanied their structuring and legal organization as an autonomous organization and since then has acted only as its custodian.
    The court ordered the Government to make autonomous and entrepreneurially organized waste pickers by trade as the preferential or exclusive procurers of municipal collection and elimination of inorganic waste. This was later implemented by the Ad Hoc Committee consensus of September 2009, controlled in the Congress of Colombia in November and duly reflected by the reformed terms of reference of the December 2009 waste tender process. Since then, ARCA is the name given to the organization specifically created for the solidarity economy of all waste pickers in the city of Cali. Despite the judicial orders, the State did not make good on its promises for provisions for goods such as physical space to meet and organize, the construction of a municipal material recovery facility and its four stations, the administrative contracting of ARCA for its operation, and the effective amendment of the waste tariff for their retribution. Nontheless, waste pickers requested that CIVISOL help them constitute ARCA as their umbrella organization in 2011, it was legally incorporated in 2014.