Apr 12

Law of Mother Earth expected to prompt radical new conservation and social measures in South American nation

John Vidal reports from La Paz where Bolivians are living with the effects of climate change every day Link to this video

Bolivia is set to pass the world’s first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans. The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country’s rich mineral deposits as “blessings” and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry.

The country, which has been pilloried by the US and Britain in the UN climate talks for demanding steep carbon emission cuts, will establish 11 new rights for nature. They include: 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.

Controversially, it will also enshrine the right of nature “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities”.

“It makes world history. Earth is the mother of all”, said Vice-President Alvaro García Linera. “It establishes a new relationship between man and nature, the harmony of which must be preserved as a guarantee of its regeneration.”

The law, which is part of a complete restructuring of the Bolivian legal system following a change of constitution in 2009, has been heavily influenced by a resurgent indigenous Andean spiritual world view which places the environment and the earth deity known as the Pachamama at the centre of all life. Humans are considered equal to all other entities.

But the abstract new laws are not expected to stop industry in its tracks. While it is not clear yet what actual protection the new rights will give in court to bugs, insects and ecosystems, the government is expected to establish a ministry of mother earth and to appoint an ombudsman. It is also committed to giving communities new legal powers to monitor and control polluting industries.

Bolivia has long suffered from serious environmental problems from the mining of tin, silver, gold and other raw materials. “Existing laws are not strong enough,” said Undarico Pinto, leader of the 3.5m-strong Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia, the biggest social movement, who helped draft the law. “It will make industry more transparent. It will allow people to regulate industry at national, regional and local levels.”

Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said Bolivia’s traditional indigenous respect for the Pachamama was vital to prevent climate change. “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. We indigenous people can contribute to solving the energy, climate, food and financial crises with our values,” he said.

Little opposition is expected to the law being passed because President Evo Morales’s ruling party, the Movement Towards Socialism, enjoys a comfortable majority in both houses of parliament.

John Vidal in La Paz
Sunday 10 April 2011 18.17 BST

Full article here: The Guardian

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2 Responses to “Bolivia’s Law of Mother Earth Establishes 11 New Rights For Nature”

  1. viviana fox Says:

    It was about time a country stepped forward and gave Mother Earth her rights. Considering all the dammage that has been to her… Its never to late for all the other countries to follow that leed… It feels good to be a Bolivian! Its important to teach our children to respect were they walk and to also respect insects , animals and each other. If we all do that. We would all be more peacefull human beings.. Vice President Alvoro Garcia, i hope he follows through… You deserve this Pachamama!!!!!

  2. Prof. R P Misra Says:

    We must congratulate the Bolivian government to enact a Law of Mother Earth. We have so robbed the earth of its vital resources that he time is not far off when human survival and development would become impossible. Global warming and resulting climate changes signify the first warning signals to humanity to meant its ways. earth has enough meet everyone’s need and not everyone’s greed, said Gandhi. Human beings have gone greedy. Number of billionaires and millionaires is increasing while over 300 millions of people do not get enough to eat. Is it development? If not, we should try to raise our standard of life and keep out standard of living at a level that satisfies all our needs.
    Development has to be refined as rise in the standard of life (love, affection, brotherhood, humility, sacrifice, nonviolence) as enshrined in all religious traditions of the world. Let us be true Hindus, true Buddhists, true Christians, and true Muslims. Let us be true human beings traveling on a road that takes us from our animal past to super-conscious future. If we try to raise our standard of life, and even compete with each other none would be suffer and be left behind. All would be gainers and happier.
    This is not something that can be achieved in a day. the turning point in human evolution would slow and tardy. but let us aim at it. If we are clear about our aim, wee would look for strategies get over the problems that come in our way. At present our goal of life is wrongly set. We want raise our standard of living unmindful of what happens to our standard of life.
    To raise our standard of life, we do not have to rob the earth of its vital resources. We do not have to dig our own graves.

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