Image

Archive for Rights of Nature

The Rights of Nature: A Legal Revolution That Could Save the World

Living On Earth

Air Date: Week of November 17, 2017

The Rights of Nature: A Legal Revolution That Could Save the World

Colorado River: Click photo to listen to NPR interview with David Boyd

Environmental lawyers are claiming in court that land, rivers, and other natural features should own themselves rather than being considered property, much like the law already treats corporations as ‘persons.’ The case for treating elements of nature as legal ‘persons’ is outlined in the book, Rights of Nature: A Legal Revolution That Could Change the World by environmental lawyer David Boyd. In a conversation with Living on Earth Host Steve Curwood he explained how this approach can go a long way to protecting critical ecosystems from human exploitation and destruction.

Read transcript and more …

International Rights of Nature Tribunal in Bonn Findings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : 10 November 2017
Media Contact:
Robert Wager (media contact) robert@endecocide.eu + 49 160 8104348
Cabot Davis (general inquiries) cabot@movementrights.org + 1 (831) 854-7634
Natalia Greene (Tribunal’s Secretariat) nati.greene@gmail.com + 593 9944-3724

Press release Bonn Tribunal (final)-ES (Print Spanish)

Press release Bonn Tribunal (final) (Print English)

BONN, Germany – The 4th session of the International Rights of Nature Tribunal, held concurrently with the 23rd United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP23), exposed the significant role which legal systems play in enabling climate change and global environmental degradation. The Tribunal heard seven cases from around the world which collectively demonstrated that global and national climate change commitments cannot be met without fundamental changes to the legal systems which legalise the activities that cause climate change and the destruction of the ecological systems on which life depends. This is a global problem – one of the cases concerned a massive lignite mine approximately 50 kms from the COP 23 negotiations.

The Bonn Tribunal consisted of 9 judges from 7 countries, and was presided over by the prominent indigenous climate and environmental justice leader, Tom Mato Awanyankapi Goldtooth. Over the course of two days, 53 people from 19 countries speaking over 7 languages presented cases regarding violations of the rights of Nature. A range of experts who testified before the Tribunal explained that whatever is agreed at the COP 23 and subsequent meetings, action to combat climate change will be ineffective while governments continue to authorise coal mines, oil wells and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), and the mining of groundwater, and allow corporations to use investor state dispute settlement mechanisms in trade agreements to prevent the taking of effective measures to protect life.

Witnesses gave first-hand accounts of what it is like to live near fracking operations, oil wells and refineries, and coal mines, about how those who defend Mother Earth are persecuted, attacked, criminalised and have their homes burnt. It heard of the anguish of indigenous and other peoples from local communities who live in intimacy with Nature as it is destroyed by roads, mines or industrial agriculture in order to benefit a small elite.

Indigenous peoples from around the world played a prominent role throughout the Tribunal as experts and witnesses. The Tribunal opened with deeply moving ceremonies and evocations of Mother Earth by representatives of the Sámi people of Europe, the Sarayaku community in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and the indigenous peoples of North America. Indigenous peoples from Africa, Russia, Bolivia, Ecuador, French Guyana, and the USA/Turtle Island presented testimonies that drew the Tribunal’s attention to the sacredness of Earth – a dimensions ignored in the COP 23 negotiations.

The Tribunal found that in each of the seven cases, serious and systematic violations of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth (UDRME) had occurred, often accompanied by human rights violations, and in several cases the harm was so severe as to constitute ecocide. In each case the legal system did not provide adequate remedies to prevent on-going harm. In most cases the harm was caused by activities such as deforestation and mining which could only take place because they had been authorised by law. It was abundantly clear those legal systems that elevate property rights and the rights of corporation above the rights of water, air and ecosystems to exist and contribute to the ecological health of the planet, are exacerbating climate change by clothing destructive activities in a cloak of legal legitimacy. The Tribunal noted that carbon, biological and conservation offsets and ecosystem services are financialisation processes that enable Nature to be privatised, commodified and traded in financial market systems. Carbon market are false solutions that do not cut emissions at source.

The Tribunal and panel of Judges

The Tribunal considers cases from the perspective of what is in the best interests of the Earth community as a whole, and hears cases involving alleged violations of the UDRME and international human rights law. The Tribunal was established in 2014 by the members of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and was formally constituted in 2015 in Paris when a wide range of civil society organizations and indigenous communities signed a Peoples’ Convention to establish the Tribunal. Cases are heard by a panel of eminent legal and environmental experts from around the world. The Bonn panel consisted of 9 distinguished judges from 7 countries: President – Tom Goldtooth (Indigenous Environmental Network, Turtle Island – USA); Osprey Orielle Lake (Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network – USA); Alberto Acosta (former president of the Constitutional Assembly – Ecuador); Fernando “Pino” Solanas (senator, Argentina), Ute Koczy (Urgewald E.V., former Parliamentarian, Germany); Cormac Cullinan (Wild Institute Law- South Africa); Simona Fraudatorio (Permanent People’s Tribunal, Italy); Shannon Biggs (Movement Rights, USA), Ruth Nyambura (African Biodiversity Network – Kenya).

Cases heard by the Tribunal in Bonn

Climate Change and False Energy Solutions.

Expert witnesses testified about how corporations such as Exxon not only profit from activities which they know cause dangerous climate change, they have also deliberately promoted false solutions to climate change (e.g. nuclear energy and gas from fracking operations) and are impeded the introduction of renewable energy and other climate change mitigation measures. In some cases corporations have spread false propaganda about indigenous peoples and others opposing the fossil fuel industry.

The Tribunal heard disturbing evidence from witnesses about the severe health impacts of living in places polluted by the coal, oil and gas industries. Evidence was presented about how energy industry operations had contaminated water, air and ground in many parts of the world in violation of the rights of Mother Earth and of human rights. Witnesses from Mauritius and Texas gave evidence of the impacts of severe hurricanes and cyclones caused or exacerbated by climate change. For example, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, homes were damaged, environmental restrictions were suspended and people had to breathe toxic fumes.

The Tribunal found that gas extraction by means of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), nuclear energy and carbon markets are all false solutions used to delay the transition to low-carbon societies. For example, fracking “breaks the bones of the Earth” and only perpetuates the destructive dependence upon oil, and gas. Carbon trading commodifies nature and allows the wealthy to buy the right to exceed national emission limits. The Tribunal decided that promoting and undertaking these activities violates the rights of Nature, including the right to integral health.

Financialization of Nature and the REDD+

Evidence was presented that REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) framework and other carbon market frameworks and payment for ecological services have resulted in more ecological destruction and pollution and facilitated the establishment and continuation of destructive industries. Witnesses explained how systematic mechanisms, such as REDD+ were resulting in indigenous and local peoples who had not degraded their lands being disposed and losing their rights in order to enable a polluting company elsewhere in the world to continue exceeding air emission limits.

The Tribunal found that that systems such as REDD+ that commodified Nature failed to recognise the reality that human beings are an integral and inseparable part of a living Earth community and that the exploitation, commodification and financialization of Nature is detrimental to all. Those who established these systems or who traded in carbon or biodiversity “credits”, were violating the rights of Nature and failing in their duty to ensure that the pursuit of human wellbeing contributes to the wellbeing of Mother Earth.

Lignite mining in the Hambach Forest

Witnesses gave evidence of how a massive lignite mine near Bonn has created the largest hole in Europe, and as it expands is destroying whole villages and the ancient Hambach forest. The forest has existed for 12,000 years, contains 800 year old trees and is home to 142 protected species. Only about 7 square kilometres of the original 60 square kilometres are left. The Tribunal heard evidence about how burning the lignite from the mine will exacerbate

global warming and cause severe pollution and health risks as well as diminish and pollute the groundwater which sustains the forest and other ecosystems. It also heard evidence from young people who are living high up in the trees in an attempt to protect them from destruction, and of how they now have an intimate relationship with the trees and the forest.

The Tribunal found that further expansion of the mine must be stopped immediately, that the site should be rehabilitated as far as possible and that Germany should recognise the rights of Nature in law in order to prevent such projects in the future. The Tribunal also drew attention to the fact that it is necessary to cease all coal mining as soon as possible in order to mitigate climate change, and particularly its effects on future generations.

Defenders of Mother Earth

The UDRME requires all human beings and institutions to defend the rights of Mother Earth and of all beings. Evidence from around the world exposed the wide-spread disregard for this duty and how people, particularly indigenous peoples, in the United States of America, Russia, Latin America and Africa are being persecuted for defending Nature from harm. In many cases the persecutions of indigenous peoples such as the Sámi peoples over long periods of time were clearly designed to destroy cultural understandings and practices that respect and protect the rights of Mother Earth and other beings.

Witnesses who testified included water protectors from Standing Rock in the United States, and representatives of indigenous peoples from Sweden (Sámi), and Russia (Shor). The Tribunal heard how indigenous people using peaceful means to defend water and Mother Earth are met with violence as governments protect corporate interests as occurred at Standing Rock. The Lakota Sioux tribe was never adequately consulted about the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline across their land. The evidence showed that the pipeline would diminish the quality of life of indigenous peoples minorities, specifically in relationship to the sacredness of water and sacred and cultural significant areas.

The Tribunal noted the ongoing history of systemic violations of the rights of the indigenous peoples. And reiterated that everyone has the duty to defend those who protect the rights of Mother Earth and to break the pattern of violation and abuse of indigenous peoples.

Almeria –deprivation of water

In the Almeria waters case the Tribunal found that the abstractions of huge quantities of water from aquifers in the Almeria region of Spain, primarily to irrigate large-scale intensive olive plantations is a violation of the rights of the rivers and ecological systems of Almeria, and a violation of the human rights of local peoples. The Spanish State and the government of Almeria must act immediately to stop the abstraction of groundwater to enable the ecosystems to recover, and the intensive cultivation of olives in Almeria must cease.

This case illustrates the consequences of treating water as a commodity that can be monopolised by the wealthy instead of recognising water as a vital source of life, which must be respected and afforded the highest level of protection. Although this case focused on a specific area, it is an example of what is happening in many areas of the world, and the principles are universal. Those human societies that do not respect water as life and which fail to take whatever measures are necessary to protect the ecological systems and cycles that generate water, destroy life and ultimately destroy themselves. Water is priceless – societies that sacrifice water sources for money, will pay a terrible price.

Threats to the Amazon

The Tribunal decided to hear a number of cases from different parts of the Amazon simultaneously in order to consider threats to the Amazon ecosystem in a holistic way. It heard evidence of widespread violations of indigenous rights and the rights of Mother Earth throughout the greater Amazon region. This included testimony about the huge mine proposed in French Guyana, and from communities in Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador. It is clear that this vital ecosystem that is a reservoir of life, home to many peoples and an essential part of maintaining global climatic stability, is being subjected to many attacks which violate its right to exist and maintain its vital cycles. The extractivist global model inevitably results in violations of the rights of the Amazon as a whole and diminishes the quality of life of all organisms in the region.
The Tribunal heard allegations of violations of the rights of Mother Earth arising from the proposed construction of a major road through the TIPNIS protected area in Bolivia and from oil exploitation in the area. Evidence about the victimization and intimidation of those opposing the construction of the road was also placed before the Tribunal. The Tribunal noted this evidence with great concern, particularly because the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth was proclaimed in Bolivia in 2010 and Bolivia has championed rights of Nature internationally.

The Tribunal decided that it wished to gather more evidence from all concerned, including the State of Bolivia, and if possible to send a delegation on a fact-finding mission to Bolivia. It also decided to request the Bolivian government to impose a moratorium on construction of the proposed road and bridges through TIPNIS and on further oil exploration in or near TIPNIS, until the Tribunal has completed its work. The Tribunal was of the view that the imposition of such a moratorium would be an appropriate precautionary measure to avoid possible violations of rights of Mother Earth while a resolution to this dispute is being sought.

Trade Agreements and their Implications on Nature

Expert witnesses from Canada, Germany, South Africa and Puerto Rico testified that Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are the drivers of an unsustainable economy based on fossil fuels, privatization, commodification and legalized enslavement of all life on Earth. FTAs are legally binding and take precedence over non-binding commitments made under the Paris Agreement. States can even be prevented from passing new laws to protect ecosystems if the tribunals established under Investor State Dispute Settlement Mechanisms (ISDSMs) in FTAs decide that they are “barriers to trade”. Indigenous peoples pay the highest price under schemes like NAFTA. Because they have protected and live close to the land, they are targets for displacement in the quest for pristine untapped “resources” for drilling, clear-cutting water mining, etc. For example, 50% of the groundwater has already been depleted in NAFTA affected areas in Mexico.

The Tribunal found that Free Trade Agreements result in systemic violations of the Rights of Nature and are based on the delusion that trade is more important than life. The provisions of these agreements must be regarded as null and void to the extent that they conflict with the rights and duties in the UDRME.

Notes

The Global Alliance for Rights of Nature (GARN) is a network of organizations and individuals committed to the universal adoption and implementation of legal systems that recognize, respect and enforce “Rights of Nature – see https://therightsofnature.org/ The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Nature is available at http://therightsofnature.org/universal-declaration

European Parliament in Brussels – Envisioning a world that considers nature’s rights

Enhancing the value of nature can play an important role in addressing some of the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges. Acknowledging nature’s rights may be a useful tool to help  leverage nature and aid in reaching Europe’s biodiversity targets. On 29 March 2017, Nature’s Rights – a non-profit organisation seeking to establish legal personality and rights for ecosystems and species – held an event at the European Parliament in Brussels, to launch their initiative in Europe and explore the possibilities granting nature’s rights could bring to the discussion.

Envisioning a world that considers nature’s rights: An introductory discussion in Europe

Co-hosted by MEPs Pavel Poc, Vice-Chair of ENVI Committee; Benedek Jávor, Vice-Chair of ENVI Committee; and Marco Affronte, ENVI Committee Member, the event: “Nature’s Rights Conference : The Missing Piece of the Puzzle” brought together a high-level panel to discuss how granting legal rights to nature might help to create the paradigm shift needed to live more sustainably and harmoniously within our planet’s limits.

Luc Bas, Director, IUCN European Regional Office provided one of the keynote speeches sharing IUCN’s views on rights for nature. IUCN and its Members clearly recognise the importance of nature’s rights as the resolution “Incorporation of the Rights of Nature as the organisational focal point in IUCN decision making”  was adopted at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2012 in Jeju. The Resolution invites IUCN and its Members to promote the development of a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Nature as a first step towards  reconciliation between human beings and the Earth as the basis of our lives, as well as the foundations of a new civilising pact. Since then, the rights for nature has also been referenced in the IUCN Global Programme 2017-2020, adopted in at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 in Hawaiʽi.

“Being a science-based and evidence-based organisation, IUCN will continue to explore and evaluate the benefits of such an initiative,” said Luc Bas.

IUCN was joined by Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director, European Environment Agency who talked about the need for systemic solutions to address the challenges of the 21st Century. Panellists included Proffesor Massimiliano Montini, Sienna University and Cambridge University C-EENRG Fellow; MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP); Jen Morgan, Systems Change Consultant; and Mumta Ito, Lawyer and Founder of Nature’s Rights.

Learn more about Nature’s Rights and their draft directive here.

Enshrining Rights of Nature in Law by Mumta Ito, TEDx Findhorn

Speaking at TEDxFindhorn, Mumta Ito advocates enshrining Rights of Nature in law in order for humans to protect the environment that we all need for our very existence.

In her passionate talk, Mumta points out that although Humans have the Right to Life, Nature –  which provides all the materials for our lives – has no such Rights.

 

Earth-Centered Law and Regulation for Safeguarding Nature – IUCN World Conservation Congress

IUCN-RoN-Declaration-sponsors

Join Us for a Workshop on

“Earth-Centered Law and Regulation for Safeguarding Nature.”

September 4th, 8:30-10:30 a.m., Room 318A, Hawaii Convention Center, Session 10223

Introductory Remarks by Justice Antonio H. Benjamin, Chair, IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law

Why Should You Attend?

IUCN-Earth-Center-Law-workshop-vertical1) In 2012 the IUCN adopted Resolution 100, “Incorporation of the Rights of Nature as the organizational focal point in IUCN’s decision making.” This Resolution calls nature’s rights to become a “fundamental and absolute key element for planning, action and assessment” for the IUCN.

2) Resolution 100 further urges the IUCN to promote a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Nature.

3) Now is the time to act on this IUCN Resolution and shift our laws and actions from an anthropocentric to an Earth-centered worldview and ethic.

4) Laws derived from the Earth that recognize and protect nature’s rights can help reverse the damage to the natural world, as well as prevent further damage. Such laws also support human rights and indigenous peoples’ rights, as detailed in Earth Law Center’s report, Fighting for Our Shared Future: http://bit.ly/ELCCoVR

5) Over 845,000 people worldwide already support the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. Attend this Workshop to learn more about how you can take part in the fast-growing rights of nature movement!

Speakers: Linda Sheehan, Earth Law Center, USA (Rights of Nature); Sostine Namanya, NAPE, Uganda (Earth Jurisprudence); Betsan Martin, Int’l Alliance of Responsible and Sustainable Societies, New Zealand; (Responsibilities to Nature) Florence Clap, IUCN France (Ecological Reparations)

For more information, contact Linda Sheehan, lsheehan@earthlaw.org, or visit https://portals.iucn.org/congress/session/10223

Click for a printable  IUCN Earth-Centered Law and Regulation for Safeguarding Nature workshop flier.

Learn more about the proposed IUCN Universal Declaration for the Rights of Nature

To sign the Intervention urging the IUCN to implement Rights of Nature, and adopt a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Nature, please send your organization’s name and logo to mbender@earthlaw.org.

Related events of interest:
Workshop 10217, Protection of Sacred Natural Sites, Sept. 4, 11am-1pm
Workshop 10283, Ecologically Informed Global Ethics and Env’l Law, Sept. 2, 5-7pm
Workshop 10300, Environmental Rule of Law, Sept. 3, 2:30-4:30pm

Tribunal Considers Rights of Nature in Imperiled San Francisco Bay-Delta

Thank you Dan Bacher and Daily Kos, Monday May 02, 2016, 8:48 AM PDT, for this article.

Photo by Dan Bacher

Gary Mulcahy, Winnemem Wintu Tribe, one of the judges of the tribunal, asked a question of witness Roger Mammon. Photo by Dan Bacher.

Many people have opined about Governor Jerry Brown’s environmentally devastating Delta Tunnels Plan, but nobody, including the Brown and Obama administrations promoting the project, have asked the alleged “beneficiary” of this plan — the San Francisco Bay-Delta Ecosystem – what the estuary has to say about the tunnels.

That all changed on April 30, 2016, when a panel of judges convened in Antioch to consider the question: “What would the San Francisco Bay-Delta  Ecosystem say?”  when examining a case brought before them in the first-ever Bay Area Rights of Nature Tribunal. The event was based on an international rights of nature tribunal held in Paris during the Paris Climate Talks last December.

The rights of nature have been inherent from the beginning of time,” said Gary Mulcahy, Winnemem Wintu Tribe, one of the tribunal judges. “We need to get rid of the concept of dominion over the Earth. We — the salmon, the water, the trees, the spiders — are all one thing. The more pieces you take from the whole, the closer you come to becoming extinct. Just like the salmon that my people depended upon.”

The Bay Area Rights of Nature Alliance, Restore the Delta, and Move to Amend held their “Rights of Nature Tribunal” regarding Governor Brown’s proposed Delta Tunnels proposal, recently renamed the California Water Fix, at the Nick Rodriguez Community Center in Antioch, in the heart of the West Delta, from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm.

The tribunal took place at a critical time for the Delta, its fish and wildlife, and its people.

“The San Francisco Bay-Delta lies polluted and suffering in a state of perpetual, human-made drought,” according to a statement from the three groups. “An estimated 95 percent of the historic Delta natural habitat has been lost. Between 2.1 million to 6.9 million acre-feet of water is exported from the Delta every year. Numerous Delta species face extinction, including the Delta Smelt and Winter-run Chinook Salmon. Marine species that depend on Delta fish for food, such as the Southern Resident Killer Whale, are also imperiled by failing Bay-Delta ecological health.”

Read the full article at  Tribunal Considers Rights of Nature in Imperiled San Francisco Bay-Delta

Eco-Instigator On International Rights of Nature Tribunal

Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) released the December 2015 edition of eco-Instigator with a detailed article on the International Rights of Nature Tribunal held in Paris during COP21.  Nnimmo Bassey served on the panel of distinguished judges at the Tribunal in Paris and presented for the Case on False Solutions for Climate Change during the Tribunal in Lima, Peru in December 2014.

Nnimmo Eco-I 10 CoverNnimmo Bassey

Nnimmo Bassey is founding Director of HOMEF and serves on the Foundation’s Advisory Board.

An architect, environmental and Rights of Mother Earth activist, author and poet, Nnimmo’s Reflections (Oil Politics): sharing opinion. mobilising for change. present profound food for thought and a way forward.

Nnimmo chaired Friends of the Earth International from 2008 through 2012 and was Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action for two decades. He was one of Time magazine’s Heroes of the Environment in 2009. In 2010, Nnimmo Bassey was named Right Livelihood Award “…for revealing the full ecological and human horrors of oil production and for his inspired work to strengthen the environmental movement in Nigeria and globally.” and in 2012 he was awarded the Rafto Prize as a Defender of victims of climate change.

Health of Mother Earth Foundation

“HOMEF is an environmental/ecological think tank and advocacy organisation. It is rooted in solidarity and in the building and protection of human and collective dignity.

We believe that neoliberal agendas driven by globalization of exploitation of the weak, despoliation of ecosystems and lack of respect for Mother Earth thrive mostly because of the ascendancy of enforced creed of might is right. This ethic permits the powerful to pollute, grab resources and degrade/destroy the rest simply because they can do so. HOMEF recognizes that this reign of (t)error can best be tackled through a conscious examination of the circumstances by which the trend crept in and got entrenched. Thus, HOMEF will have as a cardinal work track continuous political education aimed at examining the roots of exploitation of resources, labour, peoples and entire regions. HOMEF hopes through this to contribute to the building of movements for recovery of memory, dignity and harmonious living with full respect of natural cycles of Mother Earth.

Three key areas of focus are fossil fuels, the politics of hunger and creating spaces for knowledge generation and sharing.

The Advisory Board is composed of women and men who have distinguished themselves in the struggle for environmental justice and the rights of Mother Earth: – See more at: http://www.homef.org/content/about-home “

Creating New Norms: The Rights of Nature Tribunal

By Jeremy Lent, Patterns of Meaning, December 9, 2015

Writing from Paris while global leaders converged for the UN FCCC COP 21 and events offering profound alternative solutions, Jeremy Lent shares his perspective on the impact of the The Rights of Nature Tribunal as a turning point for our planet:

This week, here in Paris, we saw what may turn out to be a major milestone in the history of humankind. I’m not talking about COP21, but about a 2-day tribunal which, although having no legal standing or powers of enforcement, may turn out to have an even greater impact on the future direction of our world. It was a Rights of Nature tribunal, and it represents the most recent step in an important and hopeful journey for humanity – the recognition and expansion of intrinsic legal rights.

Rights of Man

Thomas Paine’s “The Rights of Man” was a revolutionary document in his time.

Some historical context helps. Back in 1792, Thomas Paine, author of The Rights of Man, was tried and convicted in absentia by the British for seditious libel. Paine’s troubles arose from the fact that he was blazing a new trail that has since become the bedrock of modern political thought: the inherent rights of human beings.

Paine’s writing deeply influenced the composers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, one of the most influential documents of modern history. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” it declared, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

These truths, while self-evident to the founding fathers, were radical ideas for that time, so much so that even those who signed the Declaration applied them sketchily, not even considering that they might apply equally to the Africans forced to work as slaves in their plantations.

By the middle of the twentieth century, in response to the totalitarian horrors of genocide, the world came together to create a new stirring vision that would apply equally to all human beings: the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For the first time in history, fundamental human rights were universally recognized and given legal protection.

Of course, these rights continue to be abused in all kinds of ways. But new norms had been established, and nowadays, following the formation of the International Criminal Court, when a tyrant wreaks havoc on his population, he knows that he might have to face legal consequences from the rest of the world.

As we enter into the heart of the twenty-first century, a new set of crises face humanity: the ravages of climate change, deforestation, industrial agriculture, the destruction of natural habitats, and the impending Sixth Extinction of species. Like Paine and his associates, a new group of visionaries are expounding a revolutionary concept that responds to our troubled era: the Rights of Nature.

This week in Paris, this group held a 2-day Rights of Nature Tribunal, part of which I had the honor to attend and film. The Tribunal was based on the idea that nature also has rights, just like humans. Its foundational document is a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, calling for the “universal adoption and implementation of legal systems that recognize, respect and enforce the rights of nature.”

tribunal-convening-kw

Read complete article at Patterns of Meaning Creating New Norms: The Rights of Nature Tribunal

About the author:

Jeremy Lent is President and founder of the nonprofit Liology Institute which is dedicated to fostering a worldview that could enable humanity to thrive sustainably on the earth. Jeremy is author of soon to be published The Patterning Instinct: A History of Humanity’s Future and his novel, Requiem of the Human Soul, published by independent publisher Libros Libertad in 2009.