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NEWS: Barlow calls for recognition of the rights of nature

The Inter Press Service reports, “An international coalition of academics and environmental activists (including the Council of Canadians and Global Exchange) has launched a global campaign for the creation of a new United Nations convention to protect ‘mother earth’.”

“Maude Barlow, a lead campaigner for the UN convention and chairperson of the Council of Canadians…, said: ‘We hope that one day a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth will stand as the companion to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as one of the guiding covenants of our time.”

“‘If we believe that rights are inherent, existing by virtue of our creation, then they belong to all nature, not just to humans. …We are (also) trying to say that there is no such thing as a human right if the earth cannot sustain life…’ The rights of humans and nature are deeply intertwined, and ‘we forget this at our peril’, she added.”

“Barlow said indigenous peoples are in fact, the inspiration for the declaration and it is no coincidence that it came out of a summit filled with indigenous leaders in Cochabamba, Bolivia last year. …’The rights of nature as a concept is totally compatible with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and completely complements it,’ she added.”

“Last month, (Barlow and) a group of scholars and environmental experts from around the world launched a new book titled ‘The Rights of Nature: The Case for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth’ (as well as) ‘Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth and Justice.'”

“Asked about future plans, Barlow told IPS there are moves to present the concept, book and declaration to the climate justice community in Durban in December at the Conference of Parties and to the water justice movement in Marseilles in March 2012 at the World Water Forum. She said there are also plans to get the proposed Convention into the agenda of the Rio+20 conference on the environment in Rio next June.”

“So far at the United Nations, ‘we have had an interactive dialogue on harmony with nature’. Barlow said the full declaration is probably a way off in terms of ratification at the United Nations, but several countries, including Bolivia and Ecuador, have adopted laws recognising these rights and others are expected to soon follow.”

“‘It took a long time to get the world to accept the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,’ Barlow told IPS. ‘It will not be an easy struggle to have the rights of nature understood and adopted. But it will happen one day,’ she predicted.”

The full article can be read at