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Archive for Whanganui River

Universal Declaration of River Rights

From Earth Law Center (ELC)

In the first half of 2017, four rivers have been granted legal personhood status, that is, they have been granted the same legal rights as a juristic person. This includes the Whanganui River in New Zealand, the Ganges (Ganga) and Yamuna Rivers in India, and the Atrato River in Colombia.

The Earth Law Center is committed to achieving legal personhood for more rivers and waterways.  In support of a campaign to establish rights for the Rio Magdalena and other rivers, ELC has developed a draft Universal Declaration of River Rights. The Declaration draws from victories for the rights of rivers worldwide as well as scientific understandings of healthy river systems.

The Declaration:

1. Declares that all rivers are entitled to the fundamental rights set forth in this Declaration, which arise from their very existence on our shared planet,

2. Further declares that all rivers are living entities that possess legal standing in a court of law,

3. Establishes that all rivers shall possess, at minimum, the following fundamental rights:
(1) The right to flow; [11]
(2) The right to perform essential functions within its ecosystem; [12]
(3) The right to be free from pollution;
(4) The right to feed and be fed by sustainable aquifers;
(5) The right to native biodiversity; and
(6) The right to restoration, …

Review and sign the full Declaration online (español). Or email Grant Wilson at gwilson@earthlaw.org for more information.

ELC is currently soliciting feedback on and endorsements of the Universal Declaration of River Rights.

Declaración Universal de los Derechos de los Ríos

Declaración Universal de los Derechos de los Ríos

Download the Universal Declaration of River Rights flyer in Spanish.

When Rivers Hold Legal Rights

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.

When Rivers Hold Legal Rights, Earth Island Institute Photo by Kathrin & Stefan Marks

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
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.