Nature Gets Legal Rights in Ecuador

 Posted by on 17 December 2008 at 12:10 am  Environmentalism
Dec 172008

Wow: According to the progressive quarterly newspaper Positive News, Nature Gets Legal Rights in Ecuador:

Approximately two-thirds of Ecuador’s population voted ‘yes’ this Autumn, in a historic, national referendum … [T]he Ecuadorians backed their president, Rafael Correa, in voting for a new progressive constitution – the first in the world to grant Nature the same inalienable rights as human beings. …

Dr Mario Melo, a lawyer specialising in Environmental Law and an advisor to Fundacion Pachamama, explained that the new constitution redefines people’s relationship with Nature. It is not an object to be appropriated and exploited but rather a rights-bearing entity, that should be treated with parity under the law.

“In this sense, the constitution reflects the traditions of the indigenous peoples living in Ecuador, who see Nature as a mother and call her by her proper name, Pachamama,” Dr Mario Melo said.

This new bill for Nature’s ‘right to exist’ offers an alternative paradigm. It clearly acknowledges that all life on Earth is interconnected. It must be protected and respected for the sake of all species – beliefs which have long been obvious to Ecuador’s indigenous peoples.

The constitution provides explicit legal protection for the environment. Says one section: ‘Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has a right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structures, functions and its processes in evolution.’

It also decrees that the government must apply: ‘precaution in all the activities that could lead to the extinction of any species, the destruction of ecosystems or cause the permanent alteration of natural cycles.’

Although the government is ultimately responsible for upholding the new laws, in Ecuador, every individual, organisation or community now has the power to represent Nature in the courts and halt any damaging activities.

Alberto Acosta, ex-president of the Ecuadorian Assembly, helped draft the new laws. He said: “If social justice was the axis of struggle in the 20th century, environmental justice is going to be the focus of conflicts for the 21st century.”

Does anyone know any more about this insanity?

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