Objective of the group in terms of debate and product

  • To draft a project of the Universal Declaration of Mother Earth’s Rights
  • Discuss proposals to promote Mother Earth’s Rights regionally, nationally and     internationally

Main topics to be discussed by each group:

  • Why do we use the term “Mother Earth”?
  • Why does Mother Earth need Rights?
  • Why do we need a Universal Declaration?
  • Which rights are to be included?
  • Which steps could contribute to the adoption of rights at a regional, national and international levels?

Antecedents

The indigenous people’s concept:

The concept of Mother Earth or Mother Nature is rooted in most indigenous cultures of the world. The adjective “Mother” has precisely the objective of denoting that there is a relationship based on respect and acknowledgment of our origin.  Mother Earth is the source of life of everything that exists including us human beings. In the Indigenous view Mother Earth is not an inert object nor the source of resources but a home with whom we are related. From that familiar relationship arise the different practices in which the indigenous peoples thank Mother Earth, practices that tend to create a relationship of brotherhood with birds, mountains, rivers, the wind and all of the beings that surround us.

Mother Earth is all knowing, it is alive and it is sacred. We the people are part of it and we must learn to live in harmony with her. 

Scientific concept

The Earth is a system that articulates the physical, chemical, biological and human independent of one another. Life is a part and product of this system.

James Lovelock, Lynn Margulis, Elisabet Sahtouris, José Lutzenberg and others starting in the 1970’s proposed a vision of the vitality of the Earth. According to that vision our current atmosphere is not the result of only physical, chemical, or directive forces of the universe but mainly of the interaction of life itself with its ecological surroundings. A biological result of this interaction is our atmosphere. The synergy of the living beings with the earthly elements creates and maintains the adequate habitat that we denominate biosphere because Earth itself is alive.

The United Nations concept

On April 22, 2009 the United Nations acknowledged a broader concept of Earth by declaring, on a day that will be remembered as the first International day of Mother Earth, that “Mother Earth is a common expression used to refer to Planet Earth in many countries and regions; this fact demonstrates the existing interdependence among human beings, the rest of the living species and the planet that we all inhabit.” According to Resolution 63/278 of the UN, “the Earth and its ecosystems are our home, and (…) to reach a just equilibrium between the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations it is necessary to promote harmony with nature and Earth.”

http://derechosmadretierra.org/day/

http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2009/ga10823.doc.htm

Development of the topic and some of its main antecedents

  • In 1982, the General Assembly of the United Nations approved the World Charter for Nature in which it is stated that “the human species is part of nature and life depends on the uninterrupted functioning of the natural systems.”  http://www.pnuma.org/docamb/cn1982.php
  • In 1992 the Rio Declaration on the Environment and Development was adopted. It recognizes that “nature is integral and interdependent on the Earth our home” and it points out that “the nations should cooperate with a spirit of worldwide solidarity to conserve, protect and reestablish the health and integrity of Earth’s ecosystem”. However, according to the Rio Declaration, “the human being is at the core of the concerns related to sustainable development”. And “the right to development has to be exercised in a way compatible with the developmental and environmental needs of current and future generations.” http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21_spanish/res_riodecl.shtml
  • In 2000, the Earth Charter was approved by 23 personalities after a process of consultation with civil society in different regions of the world. The Earth Charter is an international declaration of principles, proposals and aspirations for a just, sustainable and pacific world society in the 21 century. The Earth Charter promises and promotes respect and care for life in all its diversity with understanding, compassion and love. It promises to protect and restore the integrity of the ecological systems of the Earth and to proceed with caution when knowledge is limited. It also sets forth the adoption of modes of production, consumption and reproduction that safeguards the regenerative capabilities of the Earth. http://earthcharterinaction.org/contenido/pages/La-Carta-de-la-Tierra.html
  • On July 13, 2001, scientists from the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHPD), the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the International Programme of Biodiversity Science DIVERSITAS approved the Amsterdam Declaration on Global Change which states that “Human activities are significantly influencing Earth’s environment in many ways in addition to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Anthropogenic changes to Earth’s land surface, oceans, coasts and atmosphere and to biological diversity, the water cycle and biogeochemical cycles are clearly identifiable beyond natural variability. They are equal to some of the great forces of nature in their extent and impact. Many are accelerating. Global change is real and is happening now.” http://derechosmadretierra.org/2001/07/13/declaracion-de-amsterdam-sobre-el-cambio-global/
  • The World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) recommended that UNESCO should draft a frame of ethics in relation to climate change. http://derechosmadretierra.org/2009/10/13/examen-de-la-conveniencia-de-preparar-un-proyecto-de-declaracion-universal-de-principios-eticos-en-relacion-con-el-cambio-climatico/

http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001849/184909s.pdf

  • The 1360 experts of the 95 countries that participated in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment launched by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan between 2001 and 2005 recommended that in analyzing and defining the actions that influence the ecosystems, it is necessary to take into account not only the wellbeing of the human being but also the intrinsic value of the species and ecosystems. The intrinsic value is the value that an object has in itself and by itself. http://www.millenniumassessment.org/documents/document.439.aspx.pdf
  • In 2009 the UN approved, besides officially designating April 22nd as the International Mother Earth Day,  the resolution 64/196  in which the topic “Harmony with Nature” was included in the official agenda of the General Assembly  and also included was an invitation extended by the Assembly  to “invited Member States, relevant United Nations and other organizations to present their views to the Secretary General on a possible declaration of ethical principles and values for living in harmony with Mother Earth. Requesting that “he submit a report on that subject during the Assembly’s sixty-fifth session.” http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2009/ga10907.doc.htm  http://derechosmadretierra.org/draft-resolution/     

Projects and Proposals

  • The Ecuadorian Constitution enacted in 2009 states in one of its articles that “Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes”.
  • On April 22, 2009, Evo Morales Ayma, President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, proposed to the General Assembly of the United Nations the elaboration of a Universal Declaration of Mother Earth’s Rights. He proposed that this Declaration should acknowledge Mother Earth’s right to live, the right of its bio-capacity to regenerate, the right to life free of contamination and the right to live in harmony.
  • The Presidents of the member nations of the ALBA-TCP in the 2009 VII Summit that took place in Bolivia approved the “Special Declaration for a Universal Declaration of The Rights of Mother Earth”. This Declaration acknowledges the precept that a system that recognizes human rights alone is a system that generates imbalances.
  • In Bangkok, between September 28 and October 9, 2009, during the seventh period of sessions of the Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Bolivia  proposed  that   “in the shared vision of the long term cooperation, Human Rights should not be the only rights taken in to account but the rights of Mother Earth and the rights of every living being as well.”  http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2009/awglca7/spa/14s.pdf
  • In the Copenhagen talks of December 2009, the G77 and China backed the proposal that for in a shared vision of the long-term it is not enough to take into account Human Rights but also the rights of Mother Earth and all natural beings.
  • On the draft conclusions prepared by the President of the AD HOC WORKING GROUP ON LONG-TERM COOPERATIVE ACTION, document number FCCC/AWGLA/2009/L.7/Rev1, it is stated that  “Noting resolution 10/4 of the United Nations Human Rights Council on human rights and climate change, which recognizes that human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development, and the importance of respecting Mother Earth, its ecosystems and all its natural beings”. http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2009/awglca8/spa/l07r01s.pdf

References:

  • Resolution 37/7 of the General Assembly of the United Nations World Charter for Nature of 1982.
  • Earth Charter of 2000.
  • Amsterdam Declaration on Global Change of 1991.
  • 63/278 UN Resolution of 2008 that proclaim the international day of Mother Earth.
  • Declaration of ALBA for a Universal Declaration of mother earth rights of 2008.
  • FCCC/AWGLA/2009/L7/Rev1of the Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the United Nations Framework Convention. Eighth period of sessions. Copenhaguen December of 2009.
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