Tulane Conference Examines Rights of Nature

Something is 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/