Nature Gains Constitutional Rights in Ecuador

A new constitution has been approved in Ecuador, and among its amendments are specific articles that grant inalienable rights to nature.
September 30, 2008, 1pm PDT | Nate Berg
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"The Constitution includes a novel set of articles that appear to be the first in any Constitution granting inalienable rights to nature. Cyril Mychalejko of UpsideDownWorld.org wrote an interesting column exploring the political subtext and explaining how realities on the ground in that turbulent country may limit the significance of the language. Still, the wording alone is fascinating, as is the simple fact that the provisions were included."

"One passage says nature 'has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.'"

"The language in these provisions was written by Ecuador's Constitutional Assembly with input from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a Pennsylvania-based group providing legal assistance to governments and community groups trying to mesh human affairs and the environment. The group says it has helped more than a dozen communities in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia draft and pass laws 'that change the status of ecosystems from being regarded as property under the law to being recognized as rights-bearing entities.'"

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Published on Monday, September 29, 2008 in The New York Times
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