Lake Skadar


    At present there is no internationally-adopted legal instrument recognising the interconnectedness of all life. The proposed Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth was the first major move in this direction (this is a citizens initiative started in Bolivia in 2010). To date, over 124,000 citizens have signed the petition in support of its adoption internationally. The petition is available for signature here.The closest that the United Nations has come to adopting anything approaching Earth Law was in the World Charter for Nature, which was ratified by the member nations of the United Nations on October 28, 1982. More recently, since 2009, the UN General Assembly has adopted six resolutions on Harmony with Nature, which contain various perspectives on the construction of a new, non-anthropocentric paradigm, in which decisions concerning the environment take into account more than only human concerns. The text of these resolutions and other information relating to the UN’s deliberations on creating harmony with nature can be found at the UN’s own website, Harmony with Nature


Recognising Rights of Nature

One of the most progressive constitutions in existence to date is the most recent Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador (2008),  (Spanish version, English version), which included Rights of Nature in Articles 71-74.

Recognising Right to Environment

Though arguably not Earth Law, but starting to move in a positive direction by recognising rights and duties in relation to the environment, many countries take a more anthropocentric approach in their constitutions, by recognising the right to environment of individuals, groups and communities. See Annex 2 of the International Commission of Jurists (Dutch Section) 2011 Report on Human Rights and the Environment for a list of constitutions that contain provisions on rights and duties in relation to environment.

    In 2010, the Legislative Assembly of the Plurinational State of Bolivia endorsed a new “Law of the Rights of Mother Earth” (Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra), which recognises the Rights of Mother Nature to life, diversity and balance (Law 071 of the Plurinational State). This short law consisting of ten articles is derived from the first part of a longer draft bill, drafted and released by the Pact of Unity in November 2010. The full bill remains on Bolivia’s legislative agenda.The Act promotes guiding principles including the common good, interculturalism and no commodification of Nature. The Act also recognises the duties of the State and citizens to respect Earth’s rights.The law defines Mother Earth as “a collective subject of public interest,” and declares both Mother Earth and life-systems (which combine human communities and ecosytems) as titleholders of inherent rights specified in the law. The short law proclaims the creation of the “Defensoría de la Madre Tierra” a counterpart to the human rights ombudsman office known as the “Defensoría del Pueblo, but leaves its structuring and creation to future legislation
  2. Local Law





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Policy papers:

Academic papers:

  • Chapters on Ecocide and rights of Nature in academic publishing : Cambridge University Press, Routledge, Springer Nature.

    Spring 2024: Rights of Nature in Europe Encounters and Visions

    2023 : Representations and Rights of the Environment

    2023 : Handbook of the Anthropocene – Humans between Heritage and Future

    2022 : The Palgrave Handbook of Environmental Restorative Justice (review)

  • Green Legal Theory by Michael M’GonigleGreen thinking has been established both in theory and practice in Europe for decades, far ahead of North America. Few on the western side of the Atlantic understand that “green” is much more than just progressive public policy. It is about a new social framework.
  • Right to the Commons by Femke Wijdekop This LL.M paper discusses the potential for the introduction of a human right to commons- and rights-based ecological governance, as proposed by Professor Burns H. Weston and David Bollier in their book Green Governance: Ecological Survival, Human Rights and the Law of the Commons. Femke Wijdekop addresses the following questions: How can we construct a right to a healthy and clean environment that is enforceable in today’s complex international legal order? What legal construct would be visionary and ambitious enough to meet the urgent need for environmental justice and protection and at the same time be enforceable in court rather than fall into the category of ‘soft law”?
  • Taking Nature’s Rights Seriously: The Long Way to Biocentrism in Environmental Law by Susan Emmenegger and Axel Tschentscher, Georgetown International Environmental Law Review (Vol VI: Issue 3, Summer 1994)This paper explores the questions – Do we have an obligation to preserve and restore nature? Are there moral rights of nature? Should we acknowledge legal rights of nature? The authors reach beyond the position proposed by some legal and philosophical scholars, that de lege ferenda (i.e. as a recommendable future state of the law), we should award natural entities their own rights. Instead, they argue that de lege lata, (i.e., as a matter of present law), the roots of the nature’s rights approach already exist in a number of international environmental instruments. Their main thesis is that international environmental instruments show a step by step development towards acknowledging nature’s rights in a biocentric perspective.





  • Exploring Wild Law: The Philosophy of Earth Jurisprudence (2011, Wakefield Press, Adelaide, Australia). Edited by Earth Law Alliance member Peter Burdon. Wild law is a groundbreaking approach to law that stresses human dependence on nature. This volume brings together voices from the leading proponents of wild law around the world. It introduces readers to the idea of wild law and considers its relationship to environmental law, the rights of nature, science, religion, property law and international governance
  • Environmental Ethics: An Introduction to Environmental Philosophy (5th Ed, 2013, Wadsworth, Boston, MA/Cengage Learning).  Joseph R. Desjardins’ highly accessible text begins with two introductory chapters discussing various historical approaches to moral decision-making, including natural law, utilitarianism and deontological ethics. Later chapters cover philosophical approaches to issues such as managing public lands, sustainability and responsibility to the future, anthropocentric and biocentric ethics and the inherent value of life, land ethics, deep ecology, ecofeminism, environmental justice and social equality. Each chapter starts with a case study on a controversial environmental issue of our time, and ends with discussion questions in order to assist further reflection and engagement with the subject. Highly readable and enjoyable, Environmental Ethics provides a surprisingly in-depth introduction to the underlying moral and ethical viewpoints that influence politicians, policy-makers and environmentalists
  • Wild Law in Practice (March 2014, Routledge). Edited by Earth Law Alliance member Peter Burdon and Advisory Group member Michelle Maloney. Addressing topics that include a critique of the effectiveness of environmental law in protecting the environment, developments in domestic/constitutional law recognising the rights of nature, and the regulation of sustainability, Wild Law – In Practice is the first book to focus specifically on the practical legal implications of Earth Jurisprudence
  • Wild Law – A Manifesto for Earth Justice (2nd Ed. 2011, Green Books, Devon,  UK. First published in 2002). Earth Law Alliance Advisory Group member Cormac Cullinan shows that the survival of the community of life on Earth (including humans) requires us to alter fundamentally our understanding of the nature and purpose of law and governance, rather than merely to change laws. In describing what this new ‘Earth governance’ and ‘Earth jurisprudence’ might look like, he also gives practical guidance on how to begin moving towards it.
  • Should Trees Have Standing: Law, Morality and the Environment (2010, Oxford University Press). By Christopher D. Stone. Originally published in 1972, Should Trees Have Standing? was a rallying point for the then burgeoning environmental movement, launching a worldwide debate on the basic nature of legal rights that reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Now, in the 35th anniversary edition of this remarkably influential book, Christopher D. Stone updates his original thesis and explores the impact his ideas have had on the courts, the academy, and society as a whole. At the heart of the book is an eminently sensible, legally sound, and compelling argument that the environment should be granted legal rights. For the new edition, Stone examines a variety of recent cases and current events—and related topics such as climate change and protecting the oceans—and explores why trees, oceans, animals, and the environment as a whole should be bestowed with legal rights.
  • The Silent Spring  Widely considered to be one of the most
    important environmental book of the 20th century, Rachel Carson’s pioneering ”Silent Spring” alerted a large audience to the environmental and human dangers of indiscriminate use of pesticides,
    spurring revolutionary changes in the laws affecting air, land, and water.



”Invisible Hand” Rights of Nature film

A Sense of Wonder: Rachel Carson’s Love for the Natural World and Her Fight to Defend It,” at

An Inconvenient Truth,” at

Dirt: The

“The Ecological Footprint: Accounting for a Small Planet”, at

The Global Banquet: Politics of Food,” at

The Future of Food,”, by Deborah Koons Garcia.

“The NEXT Industrial Revolution” at featuring William McDonough, Michael Braungart. Narrated by Susan Sarandon.

Thirst,” by Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman, at

Thomas Berry, “The Great Story” and “The Awakening Universe,” at

NATURE RIGHTS ”Shifting paradigm and grounding in the law” Vermont Journal of Environmental Law 2018 Symposium VIDEO –