Indigenous Cosmovision and Tribunal Framework

International Rights of Nature Tribunal
Lima, Peru – December 2014

Indigenous women of the North Casey Camp-Horinek (Ponca, OK, USA) and of the South Patricia Gualinga (Sarayaku, Ecuador) laid the foundation for the Tribunal by speaking about ways to understand Mother Earth and live in harmony with Nature. According to Indigenous cosmovision, nature and Mother Earth is a sacred living being, which depends on all other living beings, including stones, water, air, earth and all the creatures that inhabit earth. All beings have the right to life, respect and even to be consulted. The Indigenous women spoke about the responsibility of humans to care for the source of life, the need to live in balance and harmony with nature,and the need and possibility of dialogue with indigenous peoples across cultures. The Tribunal recognizes that it cannot fully understand the rights of Nature without hearing the wisdom of Indigenous peoples.

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The Tribunal also considered the legal instruments that have been approved in Bolivia and Ecuador as essential. In Bolivia, Mother Earth is in the Preamble of the Constitution and is elevated in national law. The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth was signed in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2010. The Declaration sees Mother Earth as a protected collective subject which must be defended and has the right to life, protection of its integral cycles,and regeneration.

In the case of Ecuador, the Constitution recognizes in its preamble that human beings are part of nature and that Pachamama (or nature) is vital to our existence. The preamble proposes to construct a new form of coexistence in diversity and harmony with nature. The Constitution contains a chapter on Rights of Nature with four particles, which recognize the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution; the right to restoration; for caution and the banning of the acquisition of the functions of nature. Finally, it recognizes that all people, nations and nationalities have the responsibility to protect nature.

The Tribunal considers that both the proper law, which is derived from the worldview of indigenous peoples, the laws of Nature, the rules of the Bolivian and Ecuadorian legal system, and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth are applicable to understand, evaluate and implement the rights of Nature for cases submitted to it.

The Tribunal welcomes the efforts of the UN[1] to develop concepts of Harmony with Nature and invites the UN to constitute a permanent program to take note of the damages to the whole planet and its metabolism with respect to rights of Nature or Mother Earth. The rulings from the various cases talk about the impacts of the fractures to the skeleton of the earth, the damages to the sea, destruction of the atmosphere, and the intervention of complex ecosystems. These rulings are available to contribute to the development of concepts of living in harmony with Nature.

Beyond the applicable law, the Tribunal collected proposals of plaintiffs acting on behalf of Mother Earth who proposed a boycott of companies that cause the destruction of Earth systems. The Tribunal asserts that companies who are responsible for destroying earth ecosystems be banned from the UN negotiation process.

We invite civil society, organizations and individuals to exercise their autonomous, responsible, and sensible right to disconnect from the devastating transnational business model and to enroll in the exercise of supporting a model that is respectful of nature, reinforces the collective spirit which seeds and advances freedom, justice and harmony with nature. We demand a guarantee of rights of nature for all.

[1] Reports to the Secretary General: Sixty-seventh session Item 19, 20 h, 201) of the provisional agenda Sustainable Development: Harmony with Nature, October 2010, September 2011, August 2012.