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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.

1st Great International Assembly of the Alliance of Mother Nature’s Guardians

Assembly to be held in Brasilia, Brazil ~ October 11-17, 2017

Brasilia - First Great International Assembly of the Alliance of Mother Nature's Guardians

The first Great Assembly of the Alliance of Mother Nature’s Guardians will be held in Brasilia from the 11th to 16th of October 2017.
Nearly 200 indigenous representatives from around the world and personalities committed to environmental preservation wi ll meet for over five days to discuss global issues which impact the future of humanity climate, biodiversity, environment, energy, technology, conflicts, human rights, nature’s rights …

Working from the problems, challenges and solutions found on the traditional territories of indigenous peoples from a ll continents, be trey forests, islands, arctic , deserts, steppes or mountains, together they will build an inspiring strategy to protect the planet, for peace, for future generations.

The tasks of the historic Great Assembly will be divided into three main themes: Mother Nature, Humanity and Development. Proposals and recommendations to States and calls to action to the general public will be formalized, based on the 17 points set out in the Constitution of the Alliance of Mother Nature’s Guardians, drafted during COP21 in Paris in 2015.

The other objective of this Assembly is to strengthen links between participants, to help build permanent bridges between geographically remote peoples in view of future joint actions.

As a result of the Assembly ‘s work, a common document will be drafted and adopted. It will be presented to international bodies and a delegation of indigenous representatives from all continents will then participate in COP23 (Bonn, Germany, Nov 2017) and in 2018, following on from the Great Assembly, will embark on an international tour to present and defend the strategy of the Alliance of Mother Nature’s Guardians, advocating for protection of the planet. The tour will be supported by local artists, organizations and personalities in each capital city visited.

For more information visit Brazil AGMN English presentation (300dpi)

For more on the Alliance visit: Alliance of Mother Nations Guardians  or AGMN Portuguese.

 

 

Tribute to François Houtard

Francois HoutartThe Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature wants to pay tribute to François Houtart (7 March 1925 in Brussels, Belgium – 6 June 2017 in Quito, Ecuador), Belgian marxist sociologist and Catholic priest who advocated for human rights and earth rights. François Houtart served as our honorable judge during the International Rights of Nature Tribunal held in Lima Perú on the 5th and 6th of December 2014.

All the judges of the Rights of Nature Tribunals are chosen due to their high moral and ethical record, representing civil society’s maximum authorities, in order to hear and judge important Rights of Nature violations around the world.

It is with great sympathy that we accompany his loved ones, honor his life and thank him for his amazing contribution, as a writer, as a philosopher, as a theologist and as an activist for peace for among humans as with the Earth.

When Rivers Are Granted Legal Status as Persons

Sierra Club history plays a role in recently revived Rights of Nature movement
SIERRA, The national magazine of the Sierra Club
By Diane Covington-Carter | May 9 2017

In March, the Whanganui River, which winds through the North Island of New Zealand, became the world's first natural resource to be granted

In March, the Whanganui River, which winds through the North Island of New Zealand, became the world’s first natural resource to be granted “legal personhood.” (Photos courtesy of Visit Whanganui.)

Members of New Zealand’s indigenous Maori tribes have always regarded themselves as part of the universe—at one with and equal to the mountains, rivers, and seas. On March 15, 2017, after 140 years of negotiation, they helped a long-revered river, the Whanganui, gain “legal status as a person.” This means that polluting or damaging the river—New Zealand’s third longest—is now legally equivalent to harming a human.

The Whanganui River was the world’s first natural resource granted its own legal identity, with the rights, duties, and liabilities of a legal person. This breakthrough legislation effectively brought the longest-running litigation in New Zealand’s history to an end, prompting the hundreds of Maori who had gathered in the gallery of Parliament to break into a jubilant, 10-minute-long song of celebration.

Read the full article at  When Rivers Are Granted Legal Status as Persons …
Sierra Club history plays a role in recently revived Rights of Nature movement, SIERRA, May 9, 2017

Colombia Constitutional Court Finds Atrato River Possesses Rights

Press Release:  The Court Finds the Atrato Possesses Rights to “Protection, Conservation, Maintenance, and Restoration”

Rights of Nature Movement Gaining Ground as Court Declares Need to Move
Away from Legal Systems in Which Humans are the “Dominator of Nature”

“(I)t is the human populations that are interdependent of the natural world – and not the opposite – and that they must assume the consequences of their actions and omissions with the nature. It is a question of understanding this new sociopolitical reality with the aim of achieving a respectful transformation with the natural world and its environment, as has happened before with civil and political rights…Now is the time to begin taking the first steps to effectively protect the planet and its resources before it is too late…” – Colombia Constitutional Court

Press Statement

Contact:
Mari Margil
mmargil@celdf.org

MERCERSBURG, PA, USA: In November, in an extraordinary decision, Colombia’s Constitutional Court declared that the Atrato River basin possesses rights to “protection, conservation, maintenance, and restoration.”  The decision is only now being made public.

Columbia's Atrato River has rightsThe Court’s ruling comes in a case brought to address the significant degradation of the Atrato River basin from mining, impacting nature and indigenous peoples.

Declaring that the river has rights comes after thousands of years of history in which nature has been treated as “property” or “right-less” under the law.  Much like women, indigenous peoples, and slaves have been treated as property under the law, without legal rights, so today do legal systems treat nature.  Under this system, environmental laws regulate human use of nature, resulting in the decline of species and ecosystems worldwide, and the acceleration of climate change.

Transforming nature to be considered as rights-bearing – and thus in possession of legally enforceable rights – is part of the growing “Rights of Nature” movement.  The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) has been at the forefront of this movement, partnering with communities and governments in developing the world’s first Rights of Nature laws.

more …

Read full release at CELDF.org Colombia Court finds Atrato Rivers Possesses Rights

Earth Rights Conference – Sigtuna, Sweden April 21-22, 2017

What idea is powerful enough to heal the relationship between humans and nature?

This conference will be a space for dialogue and co-creation about the idea that nature, not just humans, have rights. In a time of accelerating socio-ecological challenges, Earth rights is the focus of interest at different scales, from local communities to UN bodies. It is an ancient idea, present in indigenous cultures all around the world. Can Earth rights be the foundation of a new culture of respect and harmony between people and planet?

Earth Rights Conference - Sigtuna, Sweden, 2017Come to Sweden’s oldest town, Sigtuna, in April and investigate. For more details visit:  http://www.earthrightsconference.org/

Sigtunastiftelsen
Manfred Björkquists allé 4
193 31 Sigtuna
Sweden

WORKSHOPS FRIDAY

Advancing the Rights of Nature

This workshop with Mari Margil from Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) will provide a practical examination of the Rights of Nature – what it is; why and how it is advancing around the world; and strategies for advancing it at the local and national level in Sweden and other countries. This will include discussion on how existing environmental laws legalize the use and exploitation of nature, and how these frameworks are unable to protect nature.

Art for the Rights of Nature

To open up for the solidarity with all living beings, we need to open to a sensory, creative exploration of ourselves and the world. A mindful, intuitive workshop, where we explore our inner sense of music and rhythm, and practise interbeing. How can we create sounds, noise and gestures into a co-creative piece? How can we listen to our true selves and to the group at the same time? An adventure beyond words with Peder Karlsson and Annika Lykta.

Ecological Rights and Environmental Justice

Humans, as part of nature, share the rights of nature. We live together in interconnected and interdependent ways. This workshop will reflect on how rights of nature relate to human rights and environmental justice. The demands that human societies place on nature may imply an unequal distribution of rights in some cases. Moreover, rights that are beneficial to certain societies may or may not be beneficial for other societies or lives. By extension, rights for nature must entail different kinds of rights for different communities. How might rights of nature support non-exploitative, mutually nurturing relationships between people? This workshop includes a conversation between Stefania Barca, Martin Hultman, Cormac Cullinan and Marie Persson moderated by Marco Armiero, director of Environmental Humanities Laboratory at KTH.

Law & Ecological Awakening

This workshop explores ecocide law as an expression and agent of ecological awakening. Law influences our values and steers our behaviour; ecocide law will steer our behaviour towards ecological citizenship. Making ecocide an international crime could help humans reconnect to nature by the values they prioritize: people and planet above profit. Lawyer Femke Wijdekop explores connections between the promotion of Ecocide law and alignment of intellect, body and heart to act from a place of connection to Earth. Niklas Högberg, Lodyn, will guide the participants through a process of reconnecting to ourselves, each other and the planet.

WORKSHOPS SATURDAY

The International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature

Cormac Cullinan discusses how the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature is using the International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature to pioneer and experiment with alternative international and regional governance structures, and to provide a space for sharing experience about the damage done to nature. Next Tribunal is planned in Bonn, november 2017 in adjunction with COP 23.

Co-Creating a New Earth Rights Movement from the Inside Out – A truth and reconciliation process in every heart

To be an earth rights activist means to be a carrier of a new paradigm, a new story in which rights of nature is transformed from one of many ideas into shaping the context for our common future. This is a journey of deep re-learning that requires courage – the courage to face yourself, others, the world and nature in new ways. The courage to be, feel, think and act from the inside out. This journey can be viewed as a truth and reconciliation process in every heart, aimed at restoring balance in all our relationships. We will take part in an extraordinary testimony by the Giron Sámi Teáhter: Their own truth and reconciliation commission based on stories by the Sámi people who seek to recover after ages of colonization and oppression. In the workshop, indigenous rights are interweaved with Earth rights as well as the rights of all people to live in peace and balance with nature. We will explore what it means to empower ourselves and each other in our own healing journeys, as parts of a global eco-social movement connected by a common vision: The ancient and revolutionary idea of Earth rights. A focus of the workshop is the co-creation of a short Earth Rights Declaration by the participants. With Åsa Simma, CEO of Giron Sámi Teáhter, Marie Persson, Sámi activist and Niklas Högberg, Lodyn.

Earth rights and the role of native spiritual traditions

Indigenous and traditional cosmovisions have been a very important inspiration for the Rights of Nature movement from the start. The sacredness and interconnectedness of all life is the foundation whereupon indigenous cultures are built. Dominant paradigms of colonization and modernization through history and in present times have caused transformations and even loss of many spiritual traditions. In this sense decolonization of indigenous knowledge and spirituality become an important challenge. This workshop is a dialogue between Patricia Gualinga from the Sarayaku, an indigenous community in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and Henrik Hallgren, practitioner of Forn Sidr – the Scandinavian heathen tradition. The dialogue is expressed partly as a shared ceremony and partly as a verbal dialogue where all participants will be invited to share reflections.

The Nature of learning – Humanity and the More-than-Human world in Education

How do we embed questions of humanity and nature in our learning? How do we address the overarching crucial concepts and values that shape how we see our roles as humans? In this workshop we will discuss the importance of making questions on the relationship between humanity and nature a priority in education about/for sustainability. Facilitated by Isak Stoddard and Malin Östman, together we will explore possibilities and challenges for educators and students, drawing on experiences and pedagogical practice from the transdisciplinary, collaborative and student-centred courses at the Centre for Environment and Development Studies (CEMUS) at Uppsala University and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

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.

UN Harmony With Nature Celebrates International Mother Earth Day April 21 2017

INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON HARMONY WITH NATURE IN COMMEMORATION OF INTERNATIONAL MOTHER EARTH DAY

THEME: EARTH JURISPRUDENCE

21 April 2017, United Nations HQ

Event: Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature in commemoration of International Mother Earth Day

For Programme click: Harmony with Nature Programme 10April2017

Theme: Earth Jurisprudence

Date: Friday, 21 April 2017

Location: United Nations Headquarters, New York City

Objective   –  For more information click: UN Harmony with Nature Concept Note 10April2017

The Dialogue will examine the key characteristics of, and implementation strategies for, an Earth-centred paradigm. It will advance the importance of the inclusion and application of Earth jurisprudence principles in the implementation of Agenda 2030 and all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Panelists will draw from the recommendations of the experts’ report from the 2016 virtual dialogue, showcase how Earth jurisprudence is currently being applied across different disciplines, and offer new Earth jurisprudence implementation strategies consistent with Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.  The Dialogue will explore how Earth-centred governance policies could ensure sustainable development patterns consistent with Earth jurisprudence principles.

Questions

  1. How can Earth jurisprudence help us to better implement the Sustainable Development Goals?
  2. What promising approaches and actions should be implemented, replicated or scaled-up to advance an Earth-centred approach to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals?
  3. How would a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Nature help guide implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals?

! SECURITY NOTE | PLEASE REVIEW CAREFULLY !

Guests without a valid UN Grounds Pass

To obtain a special event ticket, send an e-mail to Ms. Ariane Benrey at: hwndialogue2017@gmail.com indicating your first and last name as it appears on your valid government-issued ID. Your request should be received no later than Monday 17 April, noon.

Plan to arrive at the DC1 Building/One UN Plaza (located at the corner of 1st Avenue and 44th Street) between 8:30 and 9:45 am on Friday 21 April – to pick up your special event ticket to attend the Dialogue. Please pick up your special event ticket no later than 9:45 am. Colleagues will be holding signs with the name of the event. Kindly keep your special event ticket with you at all times.

  • Please carry a valid government-issued ID with you.
  • Please bear in mind that the passes are name-specific and non-transferable.
  • You will then go through a security screening similar to the airport. Please do not carry anything with you that you would not take through airport security.
  • Note that if you leave the UN grounds, you will need to be security screened again.
  • If for any reason you are not able to arrive to the UN premises before 9:45 am, please contact the focal point, Ms. Giovanna Maselli at (786) 901- 0070. She will kindly assist you with your event ticket.

Guests with a valid UN Grounds Pass

You do not need a special event ticket to access the Dialogue.

Broadcast: Live and on-demand webcast coverage to be available on the UN Web TV website at:

http://webtv.un.org