Global Campaign to Bestow Legal Rights on Mother Earth

UNITED NATIONS, May 24, 2011 (IPS) – An international coalition of academics and environmental activists has launched a global campaign for the creation of a new U.N. convention to protect “mother earth”.

Thalif Deen of Inter Press Services writes about the global campaign for the creation of a new U.N. convention to “bestow legal rights on mother earth”.  This article comes on the heals of recent events at the UN in which the “Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth” was presented  during the UN General Assembly Panel Dialogues on Harmony with Nature and endorsed during the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Deen quotes U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro warning “It is not too late to change course and improve our relationship with Mother Earth, But time is running out.”

Excerpts from Thalif Deen’s article:

With the United Nations fighting a relentless battle against water pollution, loss of biodiversity, desertification, deforestation, climate change and a depleted ozone layer, the campaign for a “Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth” has taken added significance.

Maude Barlow, a lead campaigner for the U.N. convention and chairperson of the Council of Canadians,  said: “We hope that one day a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth will stand as the companion to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as one of the guiding covenants of our time.”

Last month, a group of scholars and environmental experts from around the world launched a new book titled ‘The Rights of Nature: The Case for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth and Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth and Justice.’

Speaking at the launch in New York Apr. 21, Shannon Biggs, director of the community rights programme at Global Exchange, said: “Today’s environmental laws place commerce above nature, and in so doing they legalise harm to ecosystems.”

“We see communities across the world, including the United States, taking action to change this model in recognition of the rights of nature, and to protect our environment, our communities and our future,” said Biggs, author of ‘Building the Green Economy: Success Stories from the Grassroots.’

Barlow told IPS the rights of nature are based on the notion that the natural world is a fully operating system, a community, with its own laws. It is therefore necessary for humans to construct laws that are compatible with the laws of nature.

This means promoting human and community development in a way that protects nature and promotes sustainability, said Barlow, a former U.N. Adviser on Water.

Maude Barlow said “We are trying to say that there is no such thing as a human right if the earth cannot sustain life and it is no coincidence that where poor people are dying, so is the water, forests and air around them.”

The rights of humans and nature are deeply intertwined, and “we forget this at our peril”, she added.

Read the complete article…