A recent YES! Magazine article notes that, “In April 2010, Pablo Solón, Bolivia’s United Nations ambassador, enlisted Cormac Cullinan (one of the leaders of the rights of nature movement) to lead the drafting of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth at an alternative climate conference held in Cochabamba.”
In the YES! Magazine interview, Madeline Ostrander asked Cullinan, “Bolivia has been pushing the United Nations to formally recognize the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth and have it be part of climate negotiations. How could the idea of rights of nature become a tool for dealing with climate change?”
Cullinan responded, “What’s important about the Declaration is that it addresses the drivers of climate change. Climate change is not an isolated phenomenon. The cause is really the economic, political, and legal systems that promote activities that cause climate change. Most activities that result in the emission of greenhouse gases and climate change are perfectly legal. Industrialized societies are built on the profligate use of hydrocarbons like oil, gas, and coal. That’s what built them, and it’s also what will kill them. You can’t fix it by tinkering. You have to make fundamental changes so that your society is not built primarily on those energy sources. The text of the Declaration is like the DNA of a new society that wouldn’t produce climate change. For me, it would be a bonus if the Declaration went through the United Nations system, and it would be a very significant victory if it happened in the next few years. But this declaration already exists as a people’s document, by virtue of the fact that it emerged from the work of the 35,000 people involved in the conference in Cochabamba. The real strength of it is as a common manifesto for civil society.”
On April 22, 2009, Bolivian President Evo Morales called on the United Nations General Assembly to develop a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. On December 22 of that year, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution that called on all countries and the Secretary General to share their experiences and perspectives on how to create ‘harmony with nature’. As noted above, a draft Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth was developed in Bolivia in April 2010 and was presented to the Secretary General of the United Nations in New York on May 7 of that year. The Council of Canadians participated in that April conference in Bolivia and was at the United Nations on May 7 for the presentation of the declaration. More on that at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=3516.
The Council of Canadians is working on a new book titled – The Rights of Nature: The Case for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. The book will include writings from movement leaders and activists, including Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow, and is scheduled to be published in early-April. It is being developed in collaboration with Global Exchange, Navdanya, EnAct International, and Fundacion Pachamama. Barlow recently stated at the Council of Canadians 25th anniversary annual general meeting in Ottawa this past October, “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 the guiding covenants of our time.”
We will have more on the launch of the book and the ‘take note’ debate at the United Nations expected on April 22 soon.
The full interview with Cullinan can be read at http://rabble.ca/news/2011/03/what-if-wildlife-had-day-court.