On the International Day of Mother Earth, April 22, 2014, the United Nations General Assembly hosted its fourth International Dialogue on Harmony with Nature. Linda Sheehan, Executive Director of Earth Law Center, moderated the panel discussions. Civil society was invited to submit statements related to Harmony with Nature and Rights of Nature. The UN’s Harmony with Nature website has added an informational page on Rights of Nature at: Rights of Nature Law and Policy.
The Global Alliance submitted the following statement in support of advancing the formal discussion for the adoption of a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth by the United Nations. Click to download a printable PDF at Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature – UN Harmony with Nature 2014
INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON HARMONY WITH NATURE TO
COMMEMORATE INTERNATIONAL MOTHER EARTH DAY
UN HQ, NY, 22 April 2014
Statement by: Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature
On behalf of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (the “Alliance”) thank you again for the opportunity to contribute to the Interactive Dialogue of the UN General Assembly on Harmony with Nature. We commend you, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, and all who continue to bring this initiative forward.
The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature is a global network of organizations and individuals committed to the universal adoption and implementation of legal systems that recognize, respect and enforce Rights of Nature and to making Rights of Nature an idea whose time has come. Our intention as an Alliance is aligned with the proposal made to the General Assembly by Ambassador Xavier Lasso of Ecuador, and others around the world to continue the discussion towards Rights of Nature. We, the Alliance, recommend the General Assembly begin the formal discussion for the adoption of a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth by the United Nations.
To that end, in January 2014 the Alliance hosted a Global Rights of Nature Summit. A diverse gathering of scientists, attorneys, economists, activists, indigenous leaders, authors, spiritual leaders, politicians, actors, and others from 16 countries and 6 continents participated in the three day Global Rights of Nature Summit. Sixty participating principals represented diverse disciplines, cultures, nations, and bioregions. Participants traveled from Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Columbia, Ecuador, India, Italy, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, the Azores, United Kingdom, and United States to create a framework of action for further expanding global integration of Rights of Nature within today’s social, economic, and legal systems.
The primary premise of the Alliance is that in order to insure an environmentally sustainable future, humans must reorient themselves from an exploitative and ultimately self-destructive relationship with nature, to one that honors the deep interrelation of all life and contributes to living in harmony with the natural environment. An essential step in achieving this is to create a system of jurisprudence that sees and treats nature as a fundamental, rights bearing entity and not as mere property to be exploited at will.
It is to this end that the Alliance hosted the Summit and, among its prominent outcomes, launched the formation of a Permanent Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunal.
Permanent Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunal
The Alliance launched the permanent International Ethics Tribunal to demonstrate how Rights of Nature can be implemented in practice. Nine prominent cases were presented to a distinguished international, multicultural panel of judges. Among the cases were the Chevron-Texaco pollution case (Ecuador); BP Deep Horizon oil spill (USA); Yasuní-ITT oil project (Ecuador); the endangerment of the Great Barrier Reef by coal mines (Australia); hydraulic fracturing (USA) and the impacts of Climate Change (global). The Tribunal provides a vehicle for reframing prominent environmental and social justice cases and to adjudicate the cases within the context of a Rights of Nature based earth jurisprudence. While the Ethics Tribunal does not have specific legal authority for enforcement, the adjudication process provides a platform for informed legal analysis of diverse cases based on Rights of Nature.
Furthermore the Tribunal provides a framework for educating civil society and governments on the fundamental tenets of Rights of Nature and serves as an instrument for legal experts to examine constructs needed to more fully integrate Rights of Nature. Individual Chambers will be heard around the world leading up to an international Tribunal in conjunction with UNFCCC COP20 in Lima Peru in December 2014. For more, visit http://www.therightsofnature.org/rights-of-nature-tribunal/.
For more information on the Summit outcomes, visit http://www.therightsofnature.org/ron-summit-outcomes/
We encourage the UN General Assembly to continue and expand the dialogue around Rights of Nature not only in the context of Harmony with Nature but in the broader context of creating the Future We Want through advocating economic systems and structures that are truly aligned supporting with a balanced, healthy Earth Community.
Robin R. Milam
Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature