Comments on the Constitution of the Republic of Costa Rica:

Our Constitution was approved in November of 1949. Since that time several partial amendments have been included in the articles of the Constitution. One of those reforms which is of interest to us is the one contained in article 50. In 1994 this article was amended to include the constitutional right for all to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment. This article initiates the Chapter on Social Rights and Guarantees: it is very symbolic that Costa Ricans have provided the protection to the environment with the rank of a constitutional guarantee. This guarantee has become part of the national identity. Although it would be foolish to pretend that we are a nation where all aspects of environmental protection are duly handled, it is true that it is part of our idiosyncrasy to strive for a healthy and ecologically balanced environment. We have a very high percentage of our national territory dedicated to natural preserves and national parks approximately 20 %. Other areas like proper disposal of residual waters and protection of aquifers still require a lot of attention, so we can really come closer to really achieving the protection to the environment that our Constitution states. Having said this it is undeniable that Costa Rica is recognized in the world today as a green nation, an icon of environmental awareness. Below is the transcript of article fifty: “ARTICLE 50. The State shall seek the greatest welfare for all inhabitants of the country, organizing and promoting production and the most appropriate distribution of wealth. Every person has the right to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment, being therefore entitled to denounce any acts that may infringe said right and to claim redress for the damage caused. The State shall guarantee, defend and preserve that right. The Law shall determine the appropriate responsibilities and penalties.” (As amended by Article 1°, Law N° 7412, June 3, 1994).