Amazing Bolivian Law Will Give Nature Human Rights Amazing Bolivian Law Will Give Nature Human Rights

Amazing Bolivian Law Will Give Nature Human Rights

by Andrew Price

April 15, 2011

Evo Morales is Bolivia's first indigenous president, and he's bringing some back-to-the-earth philosophy to the country. Bolivia is set to pass The Law of Mother Earth, a sweeping piece of legislation that, as Vice-President Alvaro García Linera says, "establishes a new relationship between man and nature."

The new law, part of a restructuring of Bolivia's legal system, has its roots in indigenous Andean beliefs. It makes humans equal to all other living things and establishes 11 new rights for nature, including the right to life, the right to pure water and clean air, and the right to not have cellular structure genetically modified. The law also refers to Pachamama, an Andean deity, as "the source of life [...] in permanent balance, harmony and communication with the cosmos."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's unclear how the law will be enforced. Obviously, making mosquito swatting a crime would be a little crazy. But with climate change on track to raise temperatures in the country by as much as 7 degrees Fahrenheit in the next 100 years and turn wide swathes of Bolivia into a desert, you can't blame Morales for trying to get something on the books to protect his country. And maybe others could follow Bolivia's lead. Here in the states, we don't necessarily need a law that recognizes Pachamama, but something to prevent coal companies from blowing up Appalachia would be nice.

CORRECTION: As a commenter has pointed out, Morales is Bolivia's first indigenous head of state, but not the first in Latin America. The post has been updated.

Photo (cc) by by Neil Palmer (CIAT)

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Amazing Bolivian Law Will Give Nature Human Rights