Landforms As Legal Entities (With Personhood / Rights, Etc.)

EnolaGaia

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Introductory Note: I struggled to decide where to place this thread. The subject runs deeper than just another odd current news story. It's not quite the same as personal experiences of nature (cf. the 'How we relate to the planet' thread). It seems to reflect / resonate with some of the retrospective / historical themes in Earth Mysteries, though it's emerging in the present day ...

New Zealand's Whanganui River Has Been Granted the Same Legal Rights as a Person

In what's believed to be a world first, New Zealand's government has granted a river the same rights as a living person.

The Whanganui River, considered part of the living landscape by the indigenous Whanganui Iwi people associated with it, has been granted legal personhood under a parliamentary bill, reports local news service Newshub. Two representatives from the local indigenous community — one appointed by the government, another elected by the community — will be entrusted with acting in the river's interests.

The Whanganui Iwi have fought for this day for over 160 years, an indigenous MP told Radio New Zealand. "From a Whanganui viewpoint the wellbeing of the river is directly linked to the well-being of the people," said Adtian Rurawhe, "and so it is really important that's recognized as its own identity "

" I know some people will say it's pretty strange to give a natural resource a legal personality," Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson said, according to Newshub. "But it's no stranger than family trusts, or companies, or incorporated societies. " ...
SOURCE: http://time.com/4703251/new-zealand-whanganui-river-wanganui-rights/
 

EnolaGaia

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Here's a follow-on NZ editorial with reflections on what all this may mean ...

Editorial: Whanganui's old man river is really a person

How should we address the Whanganui River now it has the legal status of a person? Old man river?

Probably not, since the ink on the law that has bestowed a novel status on the slow-moving current that cuts a brown path through a green landscape is barely a week old. Its new standing would seem to have no precedent but has created ripples in jurisdictions where traditional custom rubs against contemporary interests.

It was no surprise to see reports of Whanganui's new legal definition pique the curiosity of the world's news wires.

The venerated river, third-longest in the country, will have its own trustees to represent its interests. It has a bank account, too, in the form of a $1 million grant to create a legal framework and a $30m fund to improve its health. Like many people after years of a poor diet, the river is not in the best shape.

The new guardians who will represent the river - one from Maori interests, the other the Crown - will need to attend to its needs. ...
FULL STORY: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11820612
 

EnolaGaia

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Within a week an Indian court followed suit with respect to particular rivers ...

Uttarakhand HC declares Ganga, Yamuna living entities, gives them legal rights

The Uttarakhand high court on Monday declared the Ganga and Yamuna living entities, bestowing on them same legal rights as a person, a move that could help in efforts to clean the pollution-choked rivers.

The order also ends the five-day reign of New Zealand’s Whanganui River as the only one in the world to be granted living entity status.

The court’s order will allow complaints to be filed in the name of the two rivers, held sacred by millions of Hindus. It also gives the Centre eight weeks to set up boards for cleaning and maintaining the rivers.

“It means now Ganga and Yamuna rivers will be treated like a natural person but only through a designated person,” advocate MC Pant told HT.

A bench of justice Rajeev Sharma and justice Alok Singh allowed the director general of Namami Gange project, Uttarakhand chief secretary and advocate general the right to represent the Ganga. ...
FULL STORY: http://www.hindustantimes.com/india...l-to-humans/story-VoI6DOG71fyMDihg5BuGCL.html
 

EnolaGaia

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... And then the same court extended personhood / legal identity to a pair of glaciers specifically, as well as other such landforms generally.

Uttarakhand high court declares Gangotri, Yamunotri glaciers as living entities

The Gangotri and Yamunotri glaciers, considered sacred by billions of Indians, were declared on Friday as living entities by the Uttarakhand high court, which also granted similar status to virtually every creation of nature in the Himalayan state.

The order came barely a few days after the court granted the same status to the Ganga and Yamuna rivers, which flows out of the two glaciers in the Himalayas.

The status means that the rivers and the glaciers have the right to be legally protected and if anyone harms or pollutes them, the law would view it as no different from harming a person.

Gangotri and Yamunotri are also part of Uttarakhand’s fabled ‘char dham’ – four pilgrimages visited by lakhs of Hindu devotees every year.

Besides the glaciers, Friday’s court order also said “rivers, streams, rivulets, lakes, air, meadows, dales, jungles, forests wetlands, grasslands, springs and waterfalls” in Uttarakhand must be given “corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person, in order to preserve and conserve them”. ...
FULL STORY: http://www.hindustantimes.com/india...ng-entities/story-q1e7sjBnAGefEKT5cpezkO.html
 

EnolaGaia

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It's happened again ... The city of Toledo (Ohio) has enacted a bill extending rights to Lake Erie. At least one farmer's business has filed a lawsuit in opposition.
Lake Erie first lake to be granted same rights as a human

Voters in Toledo, Ohio, have become the first in the nation to grant a lake the same rights as a human being.

The Lake Erie Bill of Rights passed a special election vote Tuesday, giving the fourth largest of the Great Lakes "the right to exist, flourish and naturally evolve."

The new law gives citizens of Toledo the right to sue any other person, farm or corporation violating the lake's rights -- such as a company, farm or government municipality that is polluting the lake.

By Wednesday morning, a nearby farm had filed suit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the new law. The Drewes Farms Partnership claimed the bill puts its family farm at risk, creating liability if any fertilizer runoff from their farm enters Lake Erie.

The push to grant Lake Erie such rights began shortly after the Toledo Water Crisis in August 2014. At that time, toxic algae blooms in the lake, caused mainly by chemical fertilizer runoff from area farms, became so thick that Toledo's drinking water was unsafe. Neither boiling nor filtering would make the water safe, the city said. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/201...granted-same-rights-as-a-human/1661551286456/
 

Sharon Hill

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It's happened again ... The city of Toledo (Ohio) has enacted a bill extending rights to Lake Erie. At least one farmer's business has filed a lawsuit in opposition.


FULL STORY: https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/201...granted-same-rights-as-a-human/1661551286456/
This is interesting and I personally like it. However, this is not a good solution to the problem. We have laws that will protect the Lake but they are not being enforced by US EPA/Ohio. I don't think this will stand. Similar "community rights" actions have been struck down as unConstitutional.
More: https://www.npr.org/2019/02/21/6965...s-a-great-lake-to-have-its-own-bill-of-rights
 
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