Monday, 18 April 2011 09:43

Bolivia Set to Pass Historic 'Law of Mother Earth' Which Will Grant Nature Equal Rights to Humans

Written by Keph Senett
   
Evo Morales speaks at the UN Evo Morales speaks at the UN Wikimedia Commons

With the cooperation of politicians and grassroots organizations, Bolivia is set to pass the Law of Mother Earth which will grant nature the same rights and protections as humans. The piece of legislation, called la Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra, is intended to encourage a radical shift in conservation attitudes and actions, to enforce new control measures on industry, and to reduce environmental destruction.

The law redefines natural resources as blessings and confers the same rights to nature as to human beings, including: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered. Perhaps the most controversial point is the right "to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities".

In late 2005 Bolivia elected its first indigenous president, Evo Morales. Morales is an outspoken champion for environmental protection, petitioning for substantive change within his country and at the United Nations. Bolivia, one of South America's poorest countries, has long had to contend with the consequences of destructive industrial practices and climate change, but despite the best efforts of Morales and members of his administration, their concerns have largely been ignored at the UN.

Jungle

 

Just last year, in 2010, Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca expressed his distress "about the inadequacy of the greenhouse gas reduction commitments made by developed countries in the Copenhagen Accord." His remarks were punctuated by the claim that some experts forecasted a temperature increase "as high as four degrees above pre-industrial levels." "The situation is serious," Choquehuanca asserted. "An increase of temperature of more than one degree above pre-industrial levels would result in the disappearance of our glaciers in the Andes, and the flooding of various islands and coastal zones."

In 2009, directly following the resolution of the General Assembly to designate April 22 "International Mother Earth Day", Morales addressed the press, stating “If we want to safeguard mankind, then we need to safeguard the planet. That is the next major task of the United Nations”. A change to Bolivia's constitution in the same year resulted in an overhaul of the legal system - a shift from which this new law has sprung.

Ocean

 

The Law of Mother Earth has as its foundation several of the tenets of indigenous belief, including that human are equal to all other entities. "Our grandparents taught us that we belong to a big family of plants and animals. We believe that everything in the planet forms part of a big family," Choquehuanca said. "We indigenous people can contribute to solving the energy, climate, food and financial crises with our values." The legislation will give the government new legal powers to monitor and control industry in the country. 

"Existing laws are not strong enough," said Undarico Pinto, leader of the 3.5m-strong Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia (a group that helped draft the law). "It will make industry more transparent. It will allow people to regulate industry at national, regional and local levels."

Desert

 

Bolivia will be establishing a Ministry of Mother Earth, but beyond that there are few details about how the legislation will be implemented. What is clear is that Bolivia will have to balance these environmental imperatives against industries - like mining - that contribute to the country's GDP.

Bolivia's successes or failures with implementation may well inform the policies of countries around the world. "It's going to have huge resonance around the world," said Canadian activist Maude Barlow. "It's going to start first with these southern countries trying to protect their land and their people from exploitation, but I think it will be grabbed onto by communities in our countries, for example, fighting the tarsands in Alberta." 

Gacier

 

Ecuador has enshrined similar aims in its Constitution, and is among the countries that have already shown support for the Bolivian initiative. Other include Nicaragua, Venezuela, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda.

National opposition to the law is not anticipated, as Morales' party - the Movement Towards Socialism - holds a majority in both houses of parliament. On April 20, two days before this year's "International Mother Earth Day", Morales will table a draft treaty with the UN, kicking off the debate with the international community.

Read the entire document (in Spanish) here.

Related Sotry: Landmark Climate Change Bill Approved By Mexican Senate

Related story: One More Victory for Mother Earth in Her Fight Against Big Oil

UPDATE (Dec. 14, 2011): Canada Withdraws from Kyoto, while Mexico Insists on Green Fund

Related story: Is Progress a Right?

Related story: Peru Approves Indigenous Law as Wikileaks Exposes US Concerns.

Related story: Ecuadorians Win Judgement Against Chevron in Amazon Case, Company Refuses to Pay

Update May 23, 2011: Turkey considering ecological approach to new constitution. Read more here.

Mountains

 Mountains

pv pulse - News for Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit & the World.

Add comment


310 Comments

  • Comment Link Phil Gleave Sunday, 08 January 2012 01:38 posted by Phil Gleave

    This is a step in the right direction, "Modern" Human beings are no better than a virus!!! (thank the universe we still have some righteous people).

    3rd world means respecting our beautiful world and living close to her, treating everything (Animals, Trees, Plants, The ocean, The air 'everything')with the same care and compassion...

    Raise the 'Human Consciousness' and come back down on a level.

    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Comment Link Steve Saturday, 07 January 2012 19:47 posted by Steve

    Does this mean that if I cut down a tree, I can be arrested for murder? While I respect everyone's right to their own opinion, I have to ask what Kool-Aid these folks are drinking.

    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Comment Link christina Saturday, 07 January 2012 17:42 posted by christina

    This is what democracy looks like

    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Comment Link Rationality Friday, 06 January 2012 02:26 posted by Rationality

    Haha, this will certainly get them out of third-world status... into fifth-world status! I pity these people.

    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Comment Link Carlos Rodriguez Thursday, 05 January 2012 11:07 posted by Carlos Rodriguez

    Really?? since when did we become arrogant that we consider ourselves equal to mother nature? Since when did we get so brilliant that decided to diminish the very power of mother nature in an effort to make her equal to us?

    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Comment Link Linda Wednesday, 04 January 2012 11:05 posted by Linda

    Finally someone comes up with meaningful resolutions that give hope to the world!
    Let's support and promote this type of resolutions all over the word before it's to late! Keep the good news coming! Bravo Evo Morales! Please keep on working to help the whole world! My respects to you!

    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Comment Link Melanie Petranovic Monday, 02 January 2012 20:07 posted by Melanie Petranovic

    Bravo Bolivia! They are actually doing something while the rest of the world is talking - platitudes, platitudes, while time passes and nothing is done! The South American countries are the hope of the world now. Everyone with a bit of heart and some brain should support their efforts. They are up against greedy giants, but then there was David!
    We hear a lot less about Goliath!

    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Comment Link Reed Monday, 02 January 2012 18:18 posted by Reed

    I am 10 years old, and this is very good news for me because this will effect my future. i have a bad feeling that america will be the last one to go earth friendly. but i will keep doing my part to help the earth stay healthy.

    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Comment Link Cheyla Saturday, 31 December 2011 08:09 posted by Cheyla

    This seems like farming would be extinct. If cows, pigs, and chickens have the same rights as humans, then they have the right to not be eaten. . .unless they plan on eating people - maybe the unemployed? Anyways, I hope this works out as it would finally be great to see a nation start working for the Earth!

    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Comment Link Kim Friday, 30 December 2011 21:49 posted by Kim

    I just hope this law is not just all smoke and mirrors. I also would love to see the US create such a law and to incorporate it to cover not just our 51 states but the other islands we shelter as well. It's a huge step to save the planet if it isn't more than just puffery, that is.

    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Where to go? What to do? How to get there? and save?! 
All from the palm of your hand! - Just WiP iT!

 

Puerto Vallarta & Riviera Nayarit Restaurants

Google Ads