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Environment

Bolivia to give Earth same rights as humans

Worthy of Human Rights?

My dad will be pleased; he said reading this blog of mine would have many people think that I was an especially angry person, which is so far from the truth. There is often just a lot out there to be upset by, and the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

But not today, even though it was a slow news day with regards to the Election. While the Toronto Star pondered the fate of Stephen Harper as head of the Conservative Party of Canada in the event they win another minority as opposed to the much coveted majority government, the Globe & Mail covered Jack Layton in Southern Ontario as he blamed Harper for our loss of manufacturing jobs. Both interesting, neither especially groundbreaking.

But this is. The Toronto Star also had a small story about Bolivia’s historic decision to legally afford the Earth (at least, the part of the Earth constituted within Bolivia’s borders) the same rights as 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 not to be polluted, the right to balance and the right not to have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.

This is remarkable, and without precedent anywhere else in the world. While many Aboriginal groups imbue the Earth with human traits and rights, they lack a legally binding quality to them, while espousing an incredibly similar sentiment. But this action in Bolivia could set the stage for a legal precedence of a nation attributing to Earth the same inalienable rights as human beings. It may act as a benchmark for similar action worldwide. Not likely to happen in Canada any time soon, but at least those who argue for it can look to the precedent set today in South America.

And if nations like the United States have deemed that corporations are entitled to the same rights as human beings, it is only a matter of time before someone may challenge the right of the Earth to those rights in America and elsewhere. Life will go on without Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs; it cannot without a healthy planet to inhabit.

And quick on the draw, Bolivia is already asking the United Nations to consider putting a proposal forward to encourage all other member nations to follow in Bolivia’s footsteps. It is idealistic to assume that many other nations will follow suit too quickly, and I certainly do not: but to see small, important, incremental steps like these can remind us how important these small, important, incremental steps can be to fulfilling larger, systemic changes globally.

This is a monumental decision, and I welcome Bolivia’s efforts at making their corner of the world more respectful of the Earth.

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About awreeves

Geography MA Environmentalist Citizen

Discussion

One thought on “Bolivia to give Earth same rights as humans

  1. This statement, coming out of Bolivia, sounds a little tinny. Alright, it’s a bad pun-Bolivia is a major exporter of tin. I have all these bad jokes and puns and I just wait in the weeds for any excuse to trot them out. Good on Bolivia for saying something that no one had thought of before on the subject of human beings and their rights. I’m also pleased that I rated mention at the beginning of the article. Back to the weeds.

    Posted by JReeves | April 25, 2011, 10:52 pm

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