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

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310 Comments

  • Comment Link kala Saturday, 03 December 2011 16:33 posted by kala

    Dustin! Props! hhahaha

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  • Comment Link Ken Thornton Friday, 02 December 2011 21:18 posted by Ken Thornton

    Message from Mother Earth

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  • Comment Link Al Friday, 02 December 2011 19:17 posted by Al

    I think we should stop making silicon chips. Then the Gorons can throw away their iPhones, iPads, computers, appliances, etc. and go live in a cave.

    Shiver in the cold and dark you Kool-Ade drinkers!

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  • Comment Link Soaring Eagle Friday, 02 December 2011 17:05 posted by Soaring Eagle

    Namaste all Light workers. Light Blessings on President Morales. This is the beginning of new laws that will make the criminals who have been assaulting earth accountable. The human race are as if a parasite on an elephants back. If the parasites begin to consume the host, the elephant will rub up against a rock or tree and wipe the parasites off or drown them in mud. This new law now needs to spread Internationally to make assaults on Gaia an act of a Terrorism against her and humanity.

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  • Comment Link Soaring Eagle Friday, 02 December 2011 17:04 posted by Soaring Eagle

    Light Blessings on President Morales. This is the beginning of new laws that will make the criminals who have been assaulting earth accountable. The human race are as if a parasite on an elephants back. If the parasites begin to consume the host, the elephant will rub up against a rock or tree and wipe the parasites off or drown them in mud. This new law now needs to spread Internationally to make assaults on Gaia an act of a Terrorism against her and humanity.

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  • Comment Link GenerouSociety Friday, 02 December 2011 16:34 posted by GenerouSociety

    Much Agreed Swami Baba!

    Namaste my dear souls! I love you all and the Earth the same! Namaste!

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  • Comment Link AlanaMi Friday, 02 December 2011 16:16 posted by AlanaMi

    I think I want to move to Bolivia ~ Evo has the right consciousness ~ that we all must evoke w/open hearts & follow ~ So be it!

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  • Comment Link RODRIGO Friday, 02 December 2011 15:35 posted by RODRIGO

    EVO MORALES TIENE DOBLE DISCURSO. LOS ULTIMOS MESES HA HECHO LO CONTRARIO A LO INDICADO EN LA NOTA. ES UN GOBIERNO MENTIROSO.

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  • Comment Link swami baba nataraja Friday, 02 December 2011 12:13 posted by swami baba nataraja

    namaste divine souls
    all life is sacred everything that lives is holy kill not or be killed what goes around comes around mad mman has poisoned the air food water and soil it is time to wake up from his pedatory ways and empty the sll slaughterhouse of his mind and show
    love compassion respect and sensitivity to all beings which includes animals which man is one of and trees and respect for enviroment god almighty bless mr morales and his country let us all respect his sane lead and relinquish our constant slaughter of enviroment and people whatever sex race country or religion they are because we all brothers and sisters with same father love peace blessings and compassion all mankind sensitivity all life
    dhanyavaad/thank you
    his holiness avatar muni baba sri nataraj siddh purush

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  • Comment Link Dustin Friday, 02 December 2011 11:28 posted by Dustin

    Stop and Think, you are an idiot.

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