Legislative Assembly of the Multi-National State of Bolivia
Law of Rights of Mother Earth
Chapter 1 – Objective and Principles
Article 1. (Objective). The present Law has as its objective the recognition of the rights of Mother Earth, as well as the obligations and duties of the Multi-national State and of its Society, to guarantee respect of these rights.
Article 2. (First Principles). The First Principles which govern the current law, and with which compliance is an obligation, are:
1. Harmony. Human activities, in the framework of plurality and diversity, should achieve dynamic balance with the cycles and processes inherent to Mother Earth.
2. Collective Good. Societal interests, in the framework of the rights of Mother Earth, prevail in all human activity and over any other acquired rights.
3. Guarantee of Regeneration of Mother Earth. The State, at its varying levels, and society, in harmony with the common interest, should guarantee the conditions necessary for the diverse living systems of Mother Earth to absorb damages, adapt to disturbances, and regenerate itself without significant alteration to its structure and functionality, realizing that living systems have limits in their abilities to regenerate themselves, and that humanity has limits in its ability to reverse its effects.
4. Respect and Defense of the Rights of Mother Earth. The State and any other individual or collective persons shall respect, protect and guarantee the rights of Mother Earth for the well-being of existing and future generations.
5. No Commercialization. That life systems cannot be commercialized, nor the processes that sustain them, nor form part of the private inheritance of anyone.
6. Multi-cultural. The exercise of the rights of Mother Earth requires the understanding, recovery, respect, protection and dialogue of the diversity of sensitivities, values, knowledge, understandings, practices, abilities, transcendences, sciences, technologies and standards, of all the world cultures that seek harmonious coexistence with the natural world.
Chapter II – Mother Earth, Definition and Characterization
Article 3. (Mother Earth) Mother Earth is the living dynamic system comprised of the inter-related, interdependent and complementary indivisible community of all life systems and living beings that share a common destiny.
Mother Earth is considered to be sacred, as per the cosmologies of the nations of rural indigenous peoples.
Article 4. (Life Systems) They are complex and dynamic communities of plants, animals, micro-organisms and other beings in their entirety, in which human communities and the rest of nature interact as a functional unit, under the influence of climatic, physiographic and geologic factors, as well as the productive practices and cultural diversity of Bolivians of both genders, and the cosmologies of the nations of rural indigenous peoples, the intercultural communities and the Afro-Bolivians.
Article 5. (Legal Character of Mother Earth) In order to be protected and for the teaching of her rights, Mother Earth adopts the characteristics of collective rights of public interest. Mother Earth and all its components, including human communities, are owners of the rights inherently understood in this Law. The application of Mother Earth’s rights shall take into account the specificities and particularities of its diverse components. Those rights established in this Law do not limit the existence of other rights of Mother Earth.
Article 6. (Exercise of the Rights of Mother Earth) All Bolivians of either gender, as part of the community of beings which comprise Mother Earth, exercise the rights established in this Law, in a manner that is compatible with individual and collective rights.
The exercise of individual rights is limited by the exercise of collective rights of the living systems of Mother Earth, any conflict among these shall be resolved in a manner that does not irreversibly affect the functionality of those living systems.
Chapter III – Rights of Mother Earth
Article 7. (Rights of Mother Earth)
I. Mother Earth has the following rights:
1. To Life: It is the right to the maintenance of the integrity of living systems and natural processes which sustain them, as well as the capacities and conditions for their renewal.
2. To the diversity of life: It is the right to the preservation of the differentiation and variety of the beings that comprise Mother Earth, without being genetically altered, nor artificially modified in their structure, in such a manner that threatens their existence, functioning and future potential.
3. To Water: It is the right of the functionality of the water cycles, of its existence and quantity, and the quality necessary to sustain living systems, and their protection with regards to contamination, for renewal of the life of Mother Earth and all its components.
4. To Clean Air: It is the right of the preservation of the quality and composition of air to sustain living systems and their protection with regards to contamination, for renewal of the life of Mother Earth and all its components.
5. To Balance: It is the right to maintenance or restoration of the inter-relation, interdependence, ability to complement and functionality of the components of Mother Earth, in a balanced manner for the continuation of its cycles and the renewal of its vital processes.
6. To Restoration: It is the right to the effective and opportune restoration of its living systems affected by direct or indirect human activities.
7. To live Free of Contamination: It is the right for preservation of Mother Earth and any of its components with regards to toxic and radioactive wastes generated by human activities.
Chapter IV – Obligations of the State and Social Duties
Article 8. (Obligations of the Multi-national State) The Multi-national State, at all its levels and all its territories, and across all its institutions and authorities, has the following obligations:
1. Develop public policies and systematic preventive actions, early alert, protection and prevention, to avoid human activities that lead to extinction of populations, the alteration of cycles and processes that guarantee life, or the destruction of living systems, including the cultural systems that are part of Mother Earth.
2. Develop balanced forms of production and patterns of consumption for the well-being of the Bolivian peoples, safeguarding the regenerative capacities and integrity of the processes and vital balances of Mother Earth.
3. Develop policies to defend Mother Earth, in the environment of multi-national and international over-exploitation of components, against the commercialization of living systems or the processes that sustain them, and of the structural causes of Global Climate Change and its effects.
4. Develop policies to ensure the sustainability of power generation in the long run by means of saving, increases in efficiency and the gradual incorporation of clean and renewable alternative sources of power.
5. Demand in the international arena the understanding of the environmental debt by means of financing and technology transfer of clean technologies that are clean, effective and compatible with the rights of Mother Earth, as well as other mechanisms.
6. Promote peace and the elimination of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction.
7. Promote the understanding and defense of the rights of Mother Earth in arena of multilateral, regional and bilateral international relationships.
Article 9. (Duties of the Persons) It is the duty of public or private natural and juridical persons:
1. To defend and respect the rights of Mother Earth.
2. To promote harmony on Mother Earth and in all its relationships with the rest of the human communities and natural living systems.
3. To participate in an active form, personally or collectively, in the generation of proposals aimed at the respect for and defense of the rights of Mother Earth.
4. To take up production and consumption practices in harmony with the rights of Mother Earth.
5. To ensure sustainable use and exploitation of Mother Earth’s components.
6. To denounce all acts against the rights of Mother Earth, its living systems and/or its components.
7. To attend meetings of competent authorities or civil society oriented at conservation and/or protection of the rights of Mother Earth.
Article 10. (Ombudsman of Mother Earth). The position of Ombudsman of Mother Earth is created, whose mission is to watch over the applicability to, promotion and diffusion of, and compliance with the rights of Mother Earth established in this Law. A special law will establish its structure, function and attributes.
Remitted to the Executive Agency, for constitutional ends.
Given in the Sessions Chamber of the Multi-National Legislative Assembly, on the seventh day of the month of December, 2010.
For more information about the Bolivia's Law of Mother Earth, see the following:
- Bolivia Celebrates Law Granting Rights to Mother Earth, ENS, La Paz, Bolivia, 20 April 2011.
- Bolivia's Law of Mother Earth Establishes 11 New Rights For Nature, John Vidal, Infinite Unknown, 12 April 2011.
- The Law of Mother Earth: Behind Bolivia's Historic Bill, Nick Buxton, Our Future Planet, 26 April 2011.
It it noteworthy that another country, Eduador, revised it's constitution in 2008 to recognize gender equality and to ensure the protection and care of natural resources. For more information, see the following:
- 2008 Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador, Political Database of the Americas, Georgetown University, 31 January 2011. See Chapter 7 - Rights of Nature.
The Preamble to the Constitution is worth quoting:
We women and men, the sovereign people of Ecuador
RECOGNIZING our age-old roots, wrought by women and men from various peoples,
CELEBRATING nature, the Pacha Mama (Mother Earth), of which we are a part and which is vital to our existence,
INVOKING the name of God and recognizing our diverse forms of religion and spirituality,
CALLING UPON the wisdom of all the cultures that enrich us as a society,
AS HEIRS to social liberation struggles against all forms of domination and colonialism
AND with a profound commitment to the present and to the future,
Hereby decide to build
A new form of public coexistence, in diversity and in harmony with nature, to achieve the good way of living, the sumak kawsay;
A society that respects, in all its dimensions, the dignity of individuals and community groups;
A democratic country, committed to Latin American integration—the dream of Simón Bolívar and Eloy Alfaro—, peace and solidarity with all peoples of the Earth;
And, exercising our sovereign powers, in Ciudad Alfaro, Montecristi, province of Manabí, we bestow upon ourselves the present:
Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador
- 2008 Constitution of Ecuador, Wikipedia, 18 January 2011.
- Ecuador Constitution Grants Rights to Nature, Andrew Revkin, New York Times, 29 September 2008.