Know Your Rights: Earth Jurisprudence and Environmental Politics in the Americas

By David Humphreys.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Two Andean countries – Ecuador and Bolivia – have politically recognised the rights of nature, an idea that is also gaining traction at the sub-federal in the United States and at the United Nations. The origins of the concept can be traced to the cultures of indigenous peoples of the Americas as well as to the work of American legal scholar Christopher Stone. Recognition of nature’s rights holds out the possibility of an alternative approach to environmental management and to a fundamentally redefined relationship between nature and society. However, upholding rights of nature in practice leads to tension with four other sets of rights in environmental politics: the rights of the state, human rights, property rights and the rights of business corporations. Even in Ecuador and Bolivia, the first two countries to recognise this new jurisprudence, rights of nature do not always prevail over these other rights.

Keywords: Pacha Mama, Buen Vivir, Rights

The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice, Volume 10, Issue 3-4, July 2015, pp.1-14. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 614.863KB).

Dr. David Humphreys

Senior Lecturer in Environmental Policy, Geography Discipline, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes, Bucks, UK