Colombia · Regional · Decision · Judicial

Gasesosas Colombianas v Colombia (Opinion No. 010-2023)

Issue:

Whether Resolution 2492 de 2022, which adopts a front-of-pack labeling (FOPL) model in Colombia, violates the norms of the Andean Community that require technical regulations to be adopted in a transparent manner, and that they are no more restrictive than necessary to achieve a legitimate objective (Articles 5,6, and 8 of the Decision 827).

Summary:

The Court ruled that:

– With respect to the alleged violation of Article 5 of Decision 827: the Colombia government complied with its obligations of transparency and due process by notifying the Andean Community members of the FOPL bill following the notification procedure established by Article 12 of Decision 827.

– With respect to the alleged violation of Articles 6 and 8 of Decision 827: in the absence of applicable international norms, the regulatory measures taken by Colombia were based on a systematic review of the scientific literature on FOPL models conducted by the University of Antioquia, and on the Model Nutrient Profile published by the Pan-American Health Organization. Although these documents could not be considered international standards under the Andean Community rules, they were deemed sufficient to fulfil the objectives of providing clear and comprehensible nutritional information to consumers and preventing deceptive practices. Moreover, the Court reaffirmed its case-law providing that the standard of review for non-compliance actions is limited to assessing whether the legal basis or criteria used in a judicial or administrative resolution violates the Andean Community legal order. This means that the Court is not competent to review the evaluation of the evidence considered by the judicial or administrative authority. This limitation is crucial to preserve the nature of the non-compliance action; otherwise, it would transform the action into an appeal, revision, or a full contentious administrative process.

Finally, it is worth noting that the Court made some remarks on the relationship between the the Andean Community legal order and the law of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Court acknowledges international law is a source for the Andean Community law but clarifies that this does not mean the Andean Community is subordinate to it.