See full article in Earth Island Institute
by Shannon Biggs of Movement Rights– April 17, 2017
New Zealand and India recognize personhood for ecosystems
Winding its way through dense forest laced with hidden waterfalls, the Whanganui River is the largest navigable river in Aotearoa, the Māori word for New Zealand. With the passage of the Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Bill in March, the river became the first water system in the world to be recognized as a rights-bearing entity, holding legal “personhood” status. One implication of the agreement is that the Whanganui River is no longer property of New Zealand’s Crown government — the river now owns itself.
In March, the Whanganui River in New Zealand became the first water body in the world to receive legal personhood status. Photo by Kathrin & Stefan Marks
Five days after the Te Awa Tupua Bill, the High Court of Uttarakhand at Naintal, in northern India, issued a ruling declaring that both the Ganga and Yumana rivers are also “legal persons/living persons.” But what does it mean for a river, or an ecosystem to hold rights? The answer may vary from place to place.
Read full article …
About the author:
Shannon Biggs is the Executive Director of Movement Rights, advancing rights for Indigenous peoples, communities, and ecosystems. She is also the co-founder of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and the co-editor of the book, The Rights of Nature: The Case for the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.
Pennie Opal Plant, LUSH Blog, May 2016
Author Pennie Opal Plant is of Yaqui, Mexican, English, Choctaw, Cherokee and European ancestry. She’s been an activist for over 30 years on anti-nuclear, environmental and indigenous rights, and has been a lecturer with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. Pennie is also a founding member of Idle No More San Francisco Bay, is involved in promoting the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, and founded Gathering Tribes in 1991.
As I write this, I’ve just returned from seeing my niece’s newborn baby girl. As I gazed into her eyes, I said a silent prayer hoping we can find a way to shift the systems of government and business that have allowed the sacred system of life to become so out of balance that everything is now threatened. I also prayed that when she’s an adult that she’d live in a world that’s healthy, sustainable, vibrantly beautiful…and in balance.
“We are all related.” No doubt you’ve heard this phrase before, especially if you have friends who are Indigenous to North America. It has many meanings to many people, but ultimately it means that all of life on Mother Earth’s belly is related or connected. After more than 500 years of Indigenous People of the Americas sharing this information, it’s finally been proven. It’s past time for the western world to listen to the Indigenous People who are traditional and doing their best to live within the Original Instructions, guidelines given to people at the beginning of time, which dictate how to live in balance with our relations and the intelligent forces of nature. It would be a shame for humans to continue to violate these instructions to such an extent that life, as we know it can no longer be supported.
For the complete article visit: WE ARE ALL RELATED: Working together to fight fossil fuels at LUSH Blog.
Pennie is also co-founder of Movement Rights:
Shifting culture and law to truly protect people is the civil rights struggle of our time and its already happening in communities across the nation. Changing the rules will require more than tinkering at the margins of the current legal, political and corporate-led economic system; it will require a system change from the grassroots. It all begins with neighbors coming together to change their community. Movement Rights provides organizing and legal support for communities to assert their right to local self governance with our partners; leadership and international movement building for the rights of nature; and connects Indigenous leadership, wisdom and analysis toward living in balance with natural systems.
Movement Rights Blog, By Shannon Biggs and Pennie Opal Plant, December 21, 2015
If you’ve been confused by the conflicting reports of the success COP 21 negotiations, you’re not alone. On the final day of the UN climate talks, President Obama issued a statement boasting words the nation, the ministers from 196 negotiating countries and the world wanted to hear: “We met the moment. We came together around a strong agreement the world needed.” The mainstream media quickly heralded the final agreement as ‘The world’s Greatest Diplomatic Success” and “Big Green” environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Avaaz blogged that while it may not be the war, as far as the battle goes, “WE WON.”
photo links to Movement Rights Blog
Reports of victory (or the whiff of a qualified victory) quickly flooded the internet. Yet standing on the streets of Paris on December 12—lined with over 10,000 people carrying red tulips and unfurling giant red ribbons defying the ban on demonstrations and condemning world leaders failure to put forward a meaningful, binding agreement—we puzzled, and wondered if we were at the same summit. From the red line action on the outside, many justice activists, economists, experts, NGO participants and Indigenous leaders had a very different take on the outcome. Former Bolivian climate negotiator, Pablo Solon told Democracy Now! “The Paris Agreement Will See the Planet Burn.”
So what does the Paris Agreement say that is creating the division of opinions?
Read the authors’ outline of what IS and what IS NOT in the Paris UNFCCC agreement at A Quick Guide to the Paris Agreement
as well as an assessment of who is celebrating and why.
About the authors:
Movement Rights co-founders Shannon Biggs and Pennie Opal Plant were in Paris for the COP 21 climate events, and to promote grassroots alternatives to the current UN process including co-producing a report on Rights of Nature, co- hosting a beyond-capacity Rights of Nature tribunal that turned away over 1,000 people, co-leading a ceremony for the signing of an international Indigenous Women’s Treaty for Mother Earth, among many other actions, interventions and activities, very often led by our board member, Indigenous leader and Ponca elder, Casey Camp Horinek (pictured).
The International Rights of Nature Tribunal will meet at Maison des Métallos in Paris on 4th and 5th of December, in conjunction with UN Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC COP21. The Tribunal is a unique, citizen-created initiative.Logo-RoNtribunal-fr It gives people from all around the world the opportunity to testify publicly as to the destruction of the Earth — destruction that governments and corporations not only allow, but in some cases encourage.
Space is limited. If you are planning to attend the third International Rights of Nature Tribunal register now for the segments you will attend.
For more details visit Paris Tribunal …
Date and Time
- Friday 4 – Saturday 5 December 2015
- 9:00am – 6:30pm each day (including an intermission)
Tribunal Venue in Paris
Maison des Métallos
94 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011 Paris, France
- Cormac Cullinan, President; Author WildLaw: A Manifesto for Earth Justice (South Africa)
- Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network (Turtle Island, USA)
- Alberto Acosta, former President Ecuador Constitutional Assembly
- Osprey Orielle Lake, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (USA)
- Nnimmo Bassey, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (Nigeria)
- Ruth Nyambura, African Biodiversity Network (Kenya)
- Damien Short, University of London (United Kingdom)
- Felício Pontes, Federal Prosecutor (Brazil)
- Terisa Turner, professor Sociology and Anthropology, former UN Energy Specialist (Canada)
- Atossa Soltani, Amazon Watch (USA)
- Philippe Desbroses, Honarary, farmer, scientist, writer (France)
- Dominique Bourg, Professor Geosciences, University of Lausanne (Switzerland)
Among the Expert Witnesses and Case Presenters :
- Pablo Solon, Fundacion Solon
- Geneviève Azam, Attac France
- Vandana Shiva, Navdanya
- Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians
- Shannon Biggs, Movement Rights
- Casey Camp Horinek, Indigenous Environmental Network
- Esperanza Martinez, Acción Ecologica
- Patricia Gualinga, Kichwa of Sarayaku, Ecuador
- Carlos Lareas, Universidad Andina Simón Bolivar
- Kandi Mossett, Indigenous Environmental Network
- Tantoo Cardinal, Actress, Activist, Tar Sands, Canada
- Valerie Cabanes, End Ecocide on Earth
Prosecutors for the Earth:
- Ramiro Avila, Universidad Andina Simón Bolivar
- Linda Sheehan, Earth Law Center
International Rights of Nature Tribunal Paris Secretariat:
- Natalia Greene, Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature
- Grant Wilson, Earth Law Center