UNITED NATIONS — Bolivia will this month table a draft United Nations treaty giving "Mother Earth" the same rights as humans — having just passed a domestic law that does the same for bugs, trees and all other natural things in the South American country.
The bid aims to have the UN recognize the Earth as a living entity that humans have sought to "dominate and exploit" — to the point that the "well-being and existence of many beings" is now threatened.
The wording may yet evolve, but the general structure is meant to mirror Bolivia's Law of the Rights of Mother Earth, which Bolivian President Evo Morales enacted in January.
That document speaks of the country's natural resources as "blessings," and grants the Earth a series of specific rights that include rights to life, water and clean air; the right to repair livelihoods affected by human activities; and the right to be free from pollution.
It also establishes a Ministry of Mother Earth, and provides the planet with an ombudsman whose job is to hear nature's complaints as voiced by activist and other groups, including the state.
"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?" Pablo Salon, Bolivia's ambassador to the UN, told Postmedia News. "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."
The application of the law appears destined to pose new challenges for companies operating in the country, which is rich in natural resources, including natural gas and lithium, but remains one of the poorest in Latin America.
But while Salon said his country just seeks to achieve "harmony" with nature, he signalled that mining and other companies may come under greater scrutiny.
"We're not saying, for example, you cannot eat meat because you know you are going to go against the rights of a cow," he said. "But when human activity develops at a certain scale that you (cause to) disappear a species, then you are really altering the vital cycles of nature or of Mother Earth. Of course, you need a mine to extract iron or zinc, but there are limits."
Bolivia is a country with a large indigenous population, whose traditional belief systems took on greater resonance following the election of Morales, Latin America's first indigenous president.
In a 2008 pamphlet his entourage distributed at the UN as he attended a summit there, 10 "commandments" are set out as Bolivia's plan to "save the planet" — beginning with the need "to end capitalism."
Earth as a living entity that humans have sought to "dominate and exploit" — to the point that the "well-being and existence of many beings" is now threatened.
This is true.
Human beings have infested the earth to the point of infection. We are like a bacteria more than we are like animals. Recognizing that might be uncomfortable but certainly not crazy. Whats crazy is acting like we're stewards of the earth and all living things and like they should be grateful we didn't kill or enslave them.
Answer by UpSheRises at 4:14 PM on Apr. 12, 2011
Agree with USR- Having spent a good amount of time in So America and knowing people who are natives, this makes sense to THEM and their way of life. It has it's roots with the indigenous peoples of those countries. Different place, different people. He!! in the US we protect CORPORATIONS like people, so frankly, I do not think we have much room to judge or roll our eyes at the belief systems of others.
Answer by Sisteract at 4:21 PM on Apr. 12, 2011
Answer by CoffeeWriter at 4:32 PM on Apr. 12, 2011
Answer by pam19 at 4:52 PM on Apr. 12, 2011
Answer by janet116 at 6:05 PM on Apr. 12, 2011
Answer by minnesotanice at 6:38 PM on Apr. 12, 2011
I agree with PSR I MEAN USR ! Sorry---I am watching the NBC Nightly News....multitasking sometimes doesn't work out too well. :-)
Answer by minnesotanice at 6:39 PM on Apr. 12, 2011
It is a shame that a poor country has to take a lead on this issue, while rich ones do nothing but tolerate indifference to pollution, polluters and the disappearance of species due to habitat degradation from development and global warming .
The "richness" of the US is very questionable, IMO. Definitely have some of our priorities skewed and have for several decades-now those decisions made are coming back to haunt us. Economy, education, relationships, family values...shakes head-
Answer by Sisteract at 6:41 PM on Apr. 12, 2011
Answer by Anonymous at 6:43 PM on Apr. 12, 2011