Bolivia to enshrine “rights of nature” in law

The president of the Bolivian Sentate’s Commission on Land, Territory, Natural Resources and Environment, Julio Salazar, announced April 20 the introduction of a Law of Mother Earth, which would officially enshrine the “rights of nature” in the Andean nation’s legal code. Saying the bill would also be introduced in the Chamber of Deputies, lower house of Bolivia’s Plurinational Legislative Assembly, Salazar stated: “We are going to seek an equilibrium between man and nature, because under previous law natural resources were anticipated to be commercialized, and now with the new laws we are converting what nature offers into a common good for the benefit of all living beings.” (ABI, Bolivia, April 20)

Rights established for the natural world under the new law will include: the right to life and existence; 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; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered. It will also enshrine the right of nature “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities.” Said Vice President Alvaro García Linera of the pending law: “It makes world history. Earth is the mother of all. It establishes a new relationship between man and nature, the harmony of which must be preserved as a guarantee of its regeneration.” (The Guardian, April 10)

See our last posts on Bolivia and the global climate crisis.

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  1. Bolivia, and the rights of Mother Earth and all living beings
    To outsiders this sounds good and well intentioned. However, the average Bolivian (all politicians are ‘average’ Bolivians… 🙂 does not care for the welfare or the right of life and existence of animals, the avergae Bolivian is ignorant and disrespectful of the environment, and all this talk about establishing a ‘new relationship’ between man and nature is neither original nor is there a common will to work towards achieving such a lofty goal. Bolivians are very good talkers, very bad doers. The president and the vice president are struggling to not loose more ground due to a growing discontent among their supporters. Hence this and other initiatives to “make world history”.

      1. Bolivians trash their own country
        Well, for me, having lived here now for 5 years, I have to agree with the comment that the average Bolivian does not care for the environment. They discard litter constantly – from buses, taxis, walking down the street, etc. I have personally seen that hundreds of times. They are cutting down the rainforest to grow more coca or simply to exploit the land. And those are indigenous people – personally have seen this as well as some invaded our land and illegally cut trees. The mines in Potosi, Oruro and elsewhere are destroying and polluting the land. Buses and minivans in all of the large cities and travelling between them spew nasty emissions – there are no controls. It will be interesting to see how they enforce this new law since none of the above will change. One question – how do you grant animals the right to life, but then the same minister quoted in the story has said that killing animals for food will be okay. Bolivians are certainly not going to turn into vegetarians.

        1. Bolivia-bashers trash my blog
          So “they are cutting down the rainforest to grow more coca or simply to exploit the land.” Do you think this might have a little something to do with the need to feed their families? A little land redistribution in Santa Cruz would go a long way towards protecting the rainforest, but the local oligarchy cries communism and talks about seceding. The mines of Potosi, Oruro and elsewhere are overwhelmingly foreign-owned, and the Morales government has been trying to impose some discipline on them. As for your vegetarian fussiness: The real issue is the right of species to exist, not individual animals. The law grants rights to “nature,” not to “animals.” One wonders why you would spend years living in a country that you evidently dislike so much.