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10 YEARS OF RECOGNITION OF RIGHTS OF NATURE IN THE ECUADORIAN
27-28th of September, 2018
QUITO, Ecuador – On September 27th and 28th, 2018, the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (GARN), together with its members and allies held the International Symposium for the Rights of Nature to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Rights of Nature in the Ecuadorian Constitution, at Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar. The recognition was achieved through the ratification of a popular referendum on September 28th, 2008. Since then, at least seven countries have recognized the inherent rights and legitimacy of nature in their legal systems.
On the first day of this historic event, attendees listened to professors, legal experts, indigenous leaders, activists, economists, government officials, artists, authors and ecologists from 17 different countries and seven indigenous nationalities, both as panelists and moderators. More than 300 people from 73 countries, and more than 70 people from the provinces of Ecuador, participated every day.
During the second day of the Symposium, profound analysis and reflections were made on the cases of Rights of Nature in Ecuador and on the work done in these past 10 years. Experts, lawyers, activists, academics and indigenous leaders spoke on the subject. As a result of the Symposium, the Declaration of the International Symposium on the Rights of Nature was created, available at: www.therightsofnature.org
It is important to emphasize that this Symposium takes place at a moment of great importance for the region, due to the announcement of the Ecuadorian Government and several Latin Americans about the ratification of the Escazú Agreement that will make progress towards better protection of the environment and a guarantee of the rights of those who protect it and advance it with Principle 10. From the civil society gathered in this Symposium, we salute and congratulate the Latin American countries, especially Ecuador, for this signature. At the Symposium, all the participants expressed their concern and solidarity with those affected by the Chevron-Texaco case. This disaster continues to have serious consequences with the affected area and its inhabitants in the Ecuadorian Amazon and we demand that Chevron-Texaco pay.
International Symposium on the Rights of Nature
We, the activists, academics, lawyers and members of the judiciary, from many diverse indigenous and other peoples of Earth, members of the Global Movement for the Rights of Nature, Mother Earth, or Pachamama, gathered in Quito on September 27th and 28th, 2018, ten years after those rights were recognised in the Constitution of Ecuador, gathered at this International Symposium, to assume the commitment to create a Declaration of Principles for the care of Mother Earth that can be transmitted to future generations, are:
CONCERNED about the domination, manipulation, privatization and subordination of Mother Earth by human beings and their hegemonic systems of accumulation which considers Earth and her natural processes as commodities and as unlimited natural resource to be appropriated and exploited;
KNOWING that the anthropocentric way of understanding Nature has led us to an ecological crisis which is devastating life on the planet and that is manifested in deterioration of native ecosystems, climate change, in mass
extinctions of animal and plant species, in the contamination of the oceans and water sources, disruption of the global water cycle, social inequity, hunger and food insecurity, and energy crises, and into what has been called the Anthropocene.
AWARE that human beings are one of the many species that are part of, and we must deconstruct and decolonize our mind to change our behavior and that we depend on Mother Earth for our survival and that we have a duty to take care of her for the good of people, other species and Mother Earth herself;
INSPIRED by the struggles of movements and peoples that demand the recognition and respect of the rights of Mother Earth, and by the jurisprudential advances throughout the world for example: the Vilcabamba and Blanco rivers in Ecuador; the Atrato River and Amazon forest in Colombia; the Doce River in Brazil; the Ganges and Yumana rivers in India; the Whanganui River and Te Urewera National Park in New Zealand; among many others; in the Constitution of Mexico City, in the municipal ordinances of the United States, Argentina and Brazil and laws such as in Bolivia, in the declarations of indigenous parliaments such as the Sami Nation and the Ponca Nation and in the work of the International Rights of Nature Tribunal itself, which advances cannot be reversed according to the principle of non-regression recognized at the regional and international level;
WE REAFFIRM our recognition of and commitment to the Rights of Nature and our respect for the ancestral concept of Mother Earth and the Universe that brought us into being;
WE RECOGNIZE the need for a paradigm shift from human-centered to Earth-centered ways of understanding and applying law;
WE RECOGNIZE the need to learn from the ancestral knowledge of all cultures and peoples, particularly of the Original Peoples and Nationalities, to have a spiritual and holistic cosmology of life, and to establish a balanced and harmonious relationship with our Mother Earth and Father Sky;
WE CALL for a full and dignified life for all the beings that inhabit Mother Earth and
1. Our recognition of the Rights of Nature, of our Mother Earth or Pachamama, as recognized in the Constitution of Ecuador of the year 2008, in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia 2010, in the Earth Charter of the United Nations, and other rights derived from the laws of Nature, from Earth democracy and from all forms of life on the planet, including human beings, which must be recognised and protected by States.
2. The natural elements of water, air and soil, and all the beings and forms of life who are part of the Earth community are legal subjects and have the rights to live, to fulfill their role in the ever-renewing processes of that community, to co-evolve, to have full recognition of their personality and consciousness and to protect their existence in diversity.
3. We defend the sacred and oppose and must halt the privatization, commodification and buying and selling of air, trees, soils, carbon, methane plants, seeds, water, biodiversity and all forms and cycles of life because they violate the Rights of Nature.
4. The political, economic and social objectives of the human species must be subordinated to the life cycles and laws that emanate from natural systems. We reiterate that a paradigm shift in the current development model is an urgent priority.
5. Extractive, predatory, reifying, objectifying and commodifying human activities, that is to say capitalism, that alter the balance, threaten, destroy the lives of other beings and alter the life cycles of nature, such as forest clearing, mega-mining, oil extraction, monoculture tree plantations, mega-dams, genetically modified organisms, financialization of nature, carbon markets, carbon offsets and geoengineering, constitute a serious violation of the Rights of Nature, therefore they must be promptly halted.
6. Human Rights must be in harmony with the Rights of Nature, and vice versa. Human rights can only be fully implemented if the Rights of Nature are fully implemented, and vice versa. The promotion and protection of the Rights of Nature will promote the dignity of people and peoples and the harmony of the human being with Mother Earth.
7. The activities necessary for the survival of the human species must be undertaken in a way that maintains collective life systems and the capacity of Mother Earth to regenerate, and that advances the construction of biocentric societies based on a just transition from extractivism and capitalism.
8. People, organizations and groups have an obligation to care for, disseminate and fight for the application of the Rights of Mother Earth, to strength social organization and collective participation. The defenders and caretakers of Mother Earth have the right to special protection and respect for their defense activities.
9. We join the call to build a new relationship between humanity and bacteria, which goes beyond the metaphor of war and the indiscriminate use of antibiotics, and to recognize that bacteria are part of what human beings are and are the inventors of life on Earth and its main sustenance. Since these invisible creatures are the ecological heart of Mother Earth, we must recognise them as legal subjects with rights.
10. States must recognize the Rights of Nature in their legal systems and guarantee their effective implementation through laws and public policies, in particular they must promote the establishment of an International Court modelled on the International Rights of Nature Tribunal to sanction the serious and systematic damage to Mother Earth, and the adoption by the United Nations of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. Likewise, States must cooperate to implement the Rights of Nature, which, which will enhance the implementation of Human Rights.
11. States, civil society, Indigenous Peoples, organizations, communities and peoples must promote the dissemination of the Rights of Nature in their educational systems, especially in basic or primary education programs.
12. We resolve to declare the Decade of the Rights of Nature (2018-2028), a crucial period in history in which humanity faces key decisions to guarantee its survival, rectifying political decisions and economic practices that in recent centuries have led to a deterioration of the environmental quality of the planet. This Declaration of the Decade of the Rights of Nature should be accepted and promoted by States and especially by the United Nations to elevate our conscious and recover a sense of life.