UN document would give 'Mother Earth' same rights as humans.SEE TEXT IN SPANISH OF THE DOMESTIC LAW - "LEY DE DERECHOS DE LA MADRE TIERRA"
By Steven Edwards
Postmedia News| April 13, 2011
UNITED NATIONS — Bolivia will this month table a draft United Nations treaty giving "Mother Earth" the same rights as humans — having just passed a domestic law that does the same for bugs, trees and all other natural things in the South American country.
The bid aims to have the UN recognize the Earth as a living entity that humans have sought to "dominate and exploit" — to the point that the "well-being and existence of many beings" is now threatened.
The wording may yet evolve, but the general structure is meant to mirror Bolivia's Law of the Rights of Mother Earth, which Bolivian President Evo Morales enacted in January.
That document speaks of the country's natural resources as "blessings," and grants the Earth a series of specific rights that include rights to life, water and clean air; the right to repair livelihoods affected by human activities; and the right to be free from pollution.
It also establishes a Ministry of Mother Earth, and provides the planet with an ombudsman whose job is to hear nature's complaints as voiced by activist and other groups, including the state.
"If you want to have balance, and you think that the only (entities) who have rights are humans or companies, then how can you reach balance?" Pablo Salon, Bolivia's ambassador to the UN, told Postmedia News. "But if you recognize that nature too has rights, and (if you provide) legal forms to protect and preserve those rights, then you can achieve balance."
The application of the law appears destined to pose new challenges for companies operating in the country, which is rich in natural resources, including natural gas and lithium, but remains one of the poorest in Latin America.
But while Salon said his country just seeks to achieve "harmony" with nature, he signalled that mining and other companies may come under greater scrutiny.
"We're not saying, for example, you cannot eat meat because you know you are going to go against the rights of a cow," he said. "But when human activity develops at a certain scale that you (cause to) disappear a species, then you are really altering the vital cycles of nature or of Mother Earth. Of course, you need a mine to extract iron or zinc, but there are limits."
Bolivia is a country with a large indigenous population, whose traditional belief systems took on greater resonance following the election of Morales, Latin America's first indigenous president.
In a 2008 pamphlet his entourage distributed at the UN as he attended a summit there, 10 "commandments" are set out as Bolivia's plan to "save the planet" — beginning with the need "to end capitalism."
Reflecting indigenous traditional beliefs, the proposed global treaty says humans have caused "severe destruction . . . that is offensive to the many faiths, wisdom traditions and indigenous cultures for whom Mother Earth is sacred."
It also says that "Mother Earth has the right to exist, to persist and to continue the vital cycles, structures, functions and processes that sustain all human beings."
In indigenous Andean culture, the Earth deity known as Pachamama is the centre of all life, and humans are considered equal to all other entities.
The UN debate begins two days before the UN's recognition April 22 of the second International Mother Earth Day — another Morales-led initiative.
Canadian activist Maude Barlow is among global environmentalists backing the drive with a book the group will launch in New York during the UN debate: Nature Has Rights.
"It's going to have huge resonance around the world," Barlow said of the campaign. "It's going to start first with these southern countries trying to protect their land and their people from exploitation, but I think it will be grabbed onto by communities in our countries, for example, fighting the tarsands in Alberta."
Ecuador, which also has a large indigenous population, has enshrined similar aims in its Constitution — but the Bolivian law is said to be "stronger."
Ecuador is among countries that have already been supportive of the Bolivian initiative, along with Nicaragua, Venezuela, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda.
© Copyright (c) Postmedia News
World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth
Mother Earth: Harmony With Nature | April 27, 2010
Working Group 3: Rights of Mother Earth
UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF MOTHER EARTH
We, the peoples and nations of Earth:
considering that we are all part of Mother Earth, an indivisible, living community of interrelated and interdependent beings with a common destiny;
gratefully acknowledging that Mother Earth is the source of life, nourishment and learning and provides everything we need to live well;recognizing that the capitalist system and all forms of depredation, exploitation, abuse and contamination have caused great destruction, degradation and disruption of Mother Earth, putting life as we know it today at risk through phenomena such as climate change;
convinced that in an interdependent living community it is not possible to recognize the rights of only human beings without causing an imbalance within Mother Earth;
affirming that to guarantee human rights it is necessary to recognize and defend the rights of Mother Earth and all beings in her and that there are existing cultures, practices and laws that do so;
conscious of the urgency of taking decisive, collective action to transform structures and systems that cause climate change and other threats to Mother Earth;
proclaim this Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, and call on the General Assembly of the United Nation to adopt it, as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations of the world, and to the end that every individual and institution takes responsibility for promoting through teaching, education, and consciousness raising, respect for the rights recognized in this Declaration and ensure through prompt and progressive measures and mechanisms, national and international, their universal and effective recognition and observance among all peoples and States in the world.
Article 1. Mother Earth
1. Mother Earth is a living being.
2. Mother Earth is a unique, indivisible, self-regulating community of interrelated beings that sustains, contains and reproduces all beings.
3. Each being is defined by its relationships as an integral part of Mother Earth.
4. The inherent rights of Mother Earth are inalienable in that they arise from the same source as existence.
5. Mother Earth and all beings are entitled to all the inherent rights recognized in this Declaration without distinction of any kind, such as may be made between organic and inorganic beings, species, origin, use to human beings, or any other status.
6. Just as human beings have human rights, all other beings also have rights which are specific to their species or kind and appropriate for their role and function within the communities within which they exist.
7. The rights of each being are limited by the rights of other beings and any conflict between their rights must be resolved in a way that maintains the integrity, balance and health of Mother Earth.
Article 2. Inherent Rights of Mother Earth
1. Mother Earth and all beings of which she is composed have the following inherent rights:
a) the right to life and to exist;
b) the right to be respected;
c) the right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue its vital cycles and processes free from human disruptions;
d) the right to maintain its identity and integrity as a distinct, self-regulating and interrelated being;
e) the right to water as a source of life;
f) the right to clean air;
g) the right to integral health;
h) the right to be free from contamination, pollution and toxic or radioactive waste;
i) the right to not have its genetic structure modified or disrupted in a manner that threatens it integrity or vital and healthy functioning;
j) the right to full and prompt restoration the violation of the rights recognized in this Declaration caused by human activities;
2. Each being has the right to a place and to play its role in Mother Earth for her harmonious functioning.
3. Every being has the right to wellbeing and to live free from torture or cruel treatment by human beings.
Article 3. Obligations of human beings to Mother Earth
1. Every human being is responsible for respecting and living in harmony with Mother Earth.
2. Human beings, all States, and all public and private institutions must:
a) act in accordance with the rights and obligations recognized in this Declaration;
b) recognize and promote the full implementation and enforcement of the rights and obligations recognized in this Declaration;
c) promote and participate in learning, analysis, interpretation and communication about how to live in harmony with Mother Earth in accordance with this Declaration;
d) ensure that the pursuit of human wellbeing contributes to the wellbeing of Mother Earth, now and in the future;
e) establish and apply effective norms and laws for the defence, protection and conservation of the rights of Mother Earth;
f) respect, protect, conserve and where necessary, restore the integrity, of the vital ecological cycles, processes and balances of Mother Earth;
g) guarantee that the damages caused by human violations of the inherent rights recognized in this Declaration are rectified and that those responsible are held accountable for restoring the integrity and health of Mother Earth;
h) empower human beings and institutions to defend the rights of Mother Earth and of all beings;
i) establish precautionary and restrictive measures to prevent human activities from causing species extinction, the destruction of ecosystems or the disruption of ecological cycles;
j) guarantee peace and eliminate nuclear, chemical and biological weapons;
k) promote and support practices of respect for Mother Earth and all beings, in accordance with their own cultures, traditions and customs;
l) promote economic systems that are in harmony with Mother Earth and in accordance with the rights recognized in this Declaration.
Article 4. Definitions
1. The term “being” includes ecosystems, natural communities, species and all other natural entities which exist as part of Mother Earth.
2. Nothing in this Declaration restricts the recognition of other inherent rights of all beings or specified beings.
"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.
Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.
Mweh ka allay!