Bolivia, which has enacted its own “Law of the Rights of Mother Earth”, reflecting the beliefs of the indigenous people of that country, is seeking to bring those principles worldwide with a United Nations treaty. The treaty, in draft at this time, would give Mother Earth the same rights as humans, including rights to life, water and clean air, the right to repair livelihoods affected by human activities, and the right to be free from pollution.
Bolivia’s domestic law gives bugs, trees and all other natural things in the South American country the same rights as humans as well. The president, Evo Morales, enacted the law in January, and the general structure of the UN treaty is meant to mirror the Bolivian law. Bolivia is rich in natural resources like natural gas and lithium, and yet remains one of the poorest countries in South America. This new law likely poses further challenges for companies attempting to operate there.
The treaty would establish a Ministry of Mother Earth, and would give the planet an ombudsman with the job of hearing nature’s complaints. These would be brought forward by activist groups, and other countries.
Pablo Salon, Bolivia’s ambassador to the UN explains: “If you want to have balance, and you think that the only (entities) who have rights are humans or companies, then how can you reach balance? But if you recognize that nature too has rights, and (if you provide) legal forms to protect and preserve those rights, then you can achieve balance.” Other countries have been supportive of the treaty, including Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda.
Bolivia also issued a pamphlet in 2008 with 10 commandments to save the planet. Number one? End capitalism.
Debate is set to begin on April 20th, two days before the UN’s recognition of the second International Mother Earth Day, which is another initiative led by Morales.
I’m going to go out on a limb here, and predict that this treaty will not have wide acceptance.