Bolivian Law Grants Nature Equal Rights With Humans

Here at Care2, we are excited to celebrate Earth Day on April 22. To extend the celebrations, we are calling this Earth Week, and you’ll find more blogs in honor of Mother Earth every day this week. Enjoy!

The Bolivian government has proposed a ground-breaking new law that would grant all of nature equal rights to those of the human race.

Earlier this year, Bolivia passed its own la Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra, or “Law of Mother Earth,” as part of a complete restructuring of the Bolivian legal system following a change of constitution in 2009.

The Law of Mother Earth is the world’s first piece of legislation to grant the planet absolute protection against those who would seek to exploit or destroy its resources or ecosystems.

The new law establishes 11 new rights for nature. They include:

  • the right to life and to exist;
  • the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air;
  • the right to balance;
  • the right not to be polluted;
  • and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.

The Guardian reports that the law has been heavily influenced by a resurgent indigenous Andean spiritual world view which places the environment and the earth deity known as the Pachamama at the centre of all life. Humans are considered equal to all other entities.

The Law of Mother Earth redefines Bolivia’s tin, silver, gold and other raw mineral deposits as “blessings” and seek to protect the planet from “mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities.”

“It is not clear at this stage how the somewhat abstract legislation would be implemented,” writes Olivia Solon for Wired. The state will need to be careful to balance the rights of nature with the regulation of industries (such as mining) that contribute a significant chunk of the country’s GDP.

Now, Bolivia is seeking to bring these principles worldwide with a United Nations treaty. The treaty, in draft at this time, would give Mother Earth the same rights as humans, including rights to life, water and clean air, the right to repair livelihoods affected by human activities, and the right to be free from pollution (SlashGear).

Critics of the law and its potential to inspire a treaty for UN nations say that it’s nothing more than an attempt by Bolivia’s socialist President Morales to “eradicate capitalism” and to force wealthy industrialized countries to “pay their environmental debt.”

Personally, I think that if the mega-corporations get to hide behind the legal protections of “personhood” as they pillage and pollute the planet, it’s only fair that she should be able to stand and defend herself with the same inalienable rights.

There could be no better Earth Day gift.

Related Reading:

Bolivia’s President Goes On Hunger Strike

Mother Nature At Work: Seven Natural Disasters of 2010

3 Reasons Why Mother Nature Wants You To Eat Less Meat

Hollywood Stars Send Mother Earth A Valentine

Image Credit: Flickr - lindsay.dee.bunny


Minakshi A.
Minakshi A.5 years ago

Well done Sir

You have presented a model for all the Rivers especially to India where we call our Rivers as Mother, I also want to work on the same line in India to consider the Rivers Rights as Human Beings because they are our mothers. For last one year I'm demanding the same thing from my government using various platforms.

Is there anyone who can share with me draft of the River Rights, so that I may work in a proper direction to convince my Government and having a strong River Act in India.

Muriel Servaege
Muriel Servaege5 years ago

Well done! Thank you, president Morales.

Carole R.
Carole R5 years ago


Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M5 years ago

I applaude the Bolivian Government in making this "Law of Mother Earth" and also President Morales! Would it not be so great to see this law worldwide?

Sue Griffiths
SUE Griffiths5 years ago

Well done President Morales.

Carole H.
Carole H6 years ago

I like this socialist Bolivian President and I like his law - I do hope the UN takes note.

Cecilie D.
Nora D6 years ago

The right of the Life Form Earth to exist and to evolve unimpeded is wise jurisprudence. Humans must understand that like all plants and animals that reach maturity, we no longer need mothers or fathers in our minds to tell us what to do. Of course we hope to love our natural aging parents. But an adult being IS a being that no longer needs a mother or a father. Our earthly parental institutions depend on our continuing to need parentalism all our lives.

Eva Maikui
Eva M6 years ago

I am in great support to Bolivia and all those who are supporting the effort to protect mother nature and all her children.
What's questionable is the question posted "does nature deserve to be treated like a human?".
This question is misleading. Some humans have treated one another terribly. So perhaps a
better question would be: DOES NATURE DESERVE TO BE TREATED LIKE A GODDESS?, being she is Mother nature after all.

Shelly Peterson
Shelly Peterson6 years ago

I am doing a "tap-dance" with my friend Simon!!!!
We believe in Planet Earth!!!!

Laurie H.
Laurie H6 years ago

This whole world would be perfect if we all could live as one with nature. Then evolution will have truly come "Full Circle!" (This is a dream I admit to having.) Thanks for posting!~