October 26, 2017
Professor Oliver Houck
happening. A court in Argentina grants a writ of habeas corpus to a chimpanzee,
held in captivity. A court in Colombia follows, this time with a bear,
characterizing it as a “sentient being.” A court in New Zealand ratifies a
consent agreement according the Whanganui River its own right to life. The
Constitutional Court of Colombia follows with the Atrato River, and the courts
of India with the Yamuna and Ganges.
Then come entire countries. The Ecuadorian constitution is
amended to recognize rights in all of nature, the Pachamama, upheld in several
subsequent court judgments. Bolivia follows suit. Two dozen local communities
in the US pass rights-of nature ordinances, while at the other end of the
spectrum, a series of international charters and declarations do the same.
Where this all comes from and where it may be going, is the
subject of a symposium on the Rights of Nature, Policy and Law, hosted by
Tulane Law School on Ocober 27, 2017. The event, organized by the Community
Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), features a one-day public session in
three parts – existing law, rights of nature laws, and implementation –
anchored by keynotes by Karenna Gore, director of the Center for Earth Ethics
at the Union Theological Seminary, and Winona LaDuke, Native American activist
and director of Honor the Earth. Panelists will come from across the United
States and around the world, including Ecuador, Nepal, Australia and Sweden.
Admission is free and open to the public, but advance
registration is recommended. Information on the program and registration is
available at https://celdf.org/rights-nature-symposium/.