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UK government can never accept the idea that nature has rights, delegate tells UN | environment

UK government can never accept the idea that nature has rights, delegate tells UN |  environment

 


The British government can never accept that it has rights to nature or the land, a British Environment Department official has told the United Nations.

Ignoring a concept that has already been recognized in the UN declaration and is a fundamental belief of many indigenous communities has been described by critics as shameful, contradictory and undemocratic.

Britain's rejection of the right to nature comes as government representatives were asked to consider Bolivia's draft resolution on living well in balance and harmony with Mother Earth and Mother Earth-centered actions during preliminary negotiations at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi on Wednesday. It came out in the meantime. . It included provisions on natural rights.

The United States, EU, Canada and Britain opposed the resolution, saying it did not give Bolivia enough time to consider complex issues submitted at the last minute.

Jamie Rendell, UK representative for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), said the draft resolution failed to respect diverse opinions on how to perceive and interact with nature. He added that he opposed the core principles of the resolution and seemed to rule out the possibility of the UK accepting this different way of dealing with nature in court.

The firm position in the UK is that only corporations with legal personality can hold rights. We do not accept that rights can be applied to nature or Mother Earth, he said. We recognize that others do so too, but these are fundamental British principles and principles from which we cannot escape.

Legal experts have worked to protect natural rights. It aims to strengthen protection for species and ecosystems devastated by the dominant market view of nature as a resource to be slaughtered or harvested.

A variety of campaigns around the world have made progress in this area, often involving efforts to integrate indigenous knowledge, ethical thinking and environmental protection. The Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights has compiled a list of countries, regions and legal systems that recognize rights to nature. Ecuador, Bolivia, Uganda, the United States, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand, Mexico, and Northern Ireland provide some recognition of natural rights in their constitutions, national laws, or local regulations.

Legal scholars have pointed out that even corporations and ships are non-human entities that can have legal personality under the law. The UN General Assembly adopted resolutions recognizing the rights of the Earth or nature in Rio+20 in 2012 and the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2022. There were a total of 14 UN General Assembly resolutions on this topic.

Agustn Grijalva, a former Ecuadorian Supreme Court judge who gave a pioneering ruling on the rights of the Los Cedros forest, said Britain's dismissal was disrespectful. It would be completely disrespectful to exclude from that perspective the proposals of Bolivia and other countries in the UN system, assuming that government representatives at least make an effort to listen, dialogue and discuss what is best for humanity and nature. He said the declaration was a shame for Britain.

Csar Rodrguez-Garavito, a Colombian legal scholar who heads New York University's Earth Rights Advocacy Clinic, said Britain's position was paradoxical at best and contradictory at worst. It is paradoxical because it recognizes rights for non-human entities, such as corporations, but denies them for non-human life forms. He said it is contradictory because it rhetorically acknowledges different cultures and indigenous worldviews while imposing Western understandings of rights and law.

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Peter Doran, a lecturer in environmental law at Queen's University Belfast and a leading campaigner for the inclusion of natural rights in the Irish constitution, said in Nairobi that Britain's fundamentalist response was outdated in both logic and content. He said this reflects the position of European colonial powers, who used the power of weapons to impose the twin pillars of genocide and environmental genocide on indigenous peoples around the world, transforming the Earth into dead material valuable only as feedstock for industry and commerce.

A government spokesperson said: We of course recognize the importance of protecting and developing nature, but the UK's position is that only legal entities, not nature or Mother Nature, can have rights.

Therefore, we have joined the United States, Canada, and the EU in raising concerns that the resolution does not include the views of other cultures and communities that share the ambition to achieve environmental goals.

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2/ https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2024/feb/22/uk-government-can-never-accept-idea-nature-has-rights-delegate-tells-un

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