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Protection, Rights or Legislation – Many Strings to Our Legal Bow

If we can give legal personality to non-living entities such as corporations,
why not also give personality to living things like animals and trees?

by Janet Millington

Changes to the law have been made (or “discovered”) to facilitate and support trade(1), colonisation(2), industry(3) and the development of corporation(4). This development has been largely driven by the desire for growth and a healthy economy(5) since the Industrial Revolution. Our legal framework(6) centres on the person and property. Very few, major shifts have been made relying on purely altruistic reasons, but some steps have been made by using the rights of the person and their property to protect or rehabilitate those things(7) valued by humans. This protection might otherwise be considered a moral obligation or a fiduciary duty(8) towards something or someone without legal personality(9). In a human centred legal system, ownership of the object, its economic value to the person, is what affords it protection.

The rights of slaves(10) and women(11) were bestowed reluctantly by white men with authority as if the former were not considered players in “the game” but merely pieces used while playing. Today we are becoming aware that by ignoring the rights of our own planet and the species that have evolved to maintain the balance required for human life(12), we have placed our own collective future at risk(13).

Now the question is, how can we build on legal traditions to do what has to be done to protect the Earth before our ecological systems collapse under the pressure of human population, the diminishment of resources, damaging extractive practices and degradation of land, water and air cycles?

Earth rights were once protected by customary laws(14) of indigenous peoples who knew the potential and the limits of, their land and its inhabitants(15). These laws developed over millennia when human capacity was limited to the direct or stored solar energy of the terrestrial rather than subterranean world. The discovery of fossil fuels, and the machines that could multiply stored energy and the potential of human work, released mankind from the limitations of working with nature.

As the dominant culture is extracting and using resources for instant monetary gain, natural resources are lost to Earth’s systems at an alarming rate, leaving devastation and human hardship in its wake. Mother Earth is considered a resource and given no voice(16). Nature has no standing(17) in legal terms and relies on the guardianship of a legal entity for protection. This protectionist view is not working as targets, penalties, and self-regulation fail to modify global multinational corporate behaviour(18). Finding a guardian for Nature can be difficult as in Sierra Club v Moreton(19) where standing was disallowed to the Sierra Club to speak for the National Park but members personally affected(20) were able to sue and perhaps return damages to restoration(21).

‘Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive’

The Legal Fiction

Legal systems, as part of legitimate judicial processes, have created alterations of fact on which to base assertions at law. These delusions have been created to facilitate decisions that perpetuate the expectations and norms of the current paradigm, therefore many relate to property and ownership. The most powerful of such legal fictions in Australia, bestowing property rights to the Crown while denying the rights or existence of the ancient and indigenous people of this continent, is the doctrine of terra nullis(22).

Another legal fiction which has allowed the capitalist, consumer economies to grow rapidly is that of the corporation as a legal person. This alteration of fact began in support of the expansion of colonial and imperial interests(23).

During the early days of the Fossil Fuel Era, Justice Morrison R. Waite, in the Santa Clara(24) case referred to the Fourteenth Amendment(25) when making a comment(26) which paved the way for corporations to assert the same rights in common law as a natural person(27); including the right to free speech. This allowed corporations to influence governments through representation to politicians and the funding of campaigns from ever deepening pockets(28).

A rapid development of commerce followed, stimulating employment and wealth for the state and its people. Corporations were allowed a freedom not permitted to the natural person — the right to buy and control their own kind. Corporations were free to own or take over other corporations allowing the establishment and growth of the multinational company.

As we approach the end of the Fossil Fuel Era, humanity looks back over more than a century and a half of destructive corporate behaviour facilitated by corporate rights as a legal person. We see multinational companies able to transfer resources, risk, profits and obligations from one country to another. With incomes larger than those of most countries, corporations exert tremendous influence on governments in accessing Earth’s resources to increase their profits, for the ‘benefit’ of the state and its people(29). Globalisation has run rampant, devastating communities wherever resources such as cheap human labour, fertility, water, mineral wealth or weak protection against poor industrial practices(30) are found.

What the world needs now is…. Returning Rights to Nature and Earth Jurisprudence(31)

To this point the protectionist approach has been easily sidestepped by developers arguing they provide the “greatest good for the greatest number of people”(32) while not considering the future. The conservationist approach, asserting that nature should be saved as it may prove useful later, has also reinforced the homocentric perspective(33) and failed to slow harm to the Earth.

Christopher Stone has been arguing since 1972 for Earth Rights and stated that it is time to “subordinat[e] some human claims”(34) for the utilitarian existence of Nature, to move beyond the traditional mechanisms such as civil suits, licensing, administration agencies and fines(35) and to build up a body of rights through the courts which “shift concern to the environment and its repair”(36). This approach is one way of ensuring that damages to ecosystems are too costly for corporations to bear in pursuit of their primary responsibility of making a profit for shareholders. Rather than budgeting for fines and damages, restoration of Nature would become an open-ended and prohibitively costly consequence of reckless corporate behaviour.

Stone suggests that until we legally personify Nature, it can be destroyed for profit(37). He describes Nature’s missing criteria of a right holder as; it has no standing, its unique damages do not count in determining outcomes and it is not a beneficiary of the award(38). Damages in this approach would be to “mak[e] the environment whole”(39).

Looking Forward by Looking back – Ancient Wisdoms and Moral Judgement Leads the Way

The rights of Nature have already been acknowledged by Bolivia(40) and Ecuador(41) in alterations to their constitutions, brought about by advocacy from their indigenous peoples, supported by legal activists. Some American states have also adopted similar rights through legislation(42). But as corporations straddle many countries, a new hope for Earth Justice is through International Law. One such initiative is the proposed Declaration of the Rights of Mother Nature(43).

Also at the international level, but working within existing United Nations Charters, Polly Higgins is striving to make damage to the environment the Fifth Crime Against Peace. Although not directly bestowing rights to Nature, this approach has merit because it builds on established, proven legal mechanisms within the international community to deem illegal polluting and devastating corporate action and government complicity. The new crime would be called “Ecocide”, making an undeniable link between humanity, the environment on which it depends and the increasing risk of war created by resource depletion and land degradation. It also has a strong element of ancient wisdom that required respect for the Earth and acknowledgement of the sacredness of all life(44), thereby attracting the legal status of erga omnes(45) and creating “a mandatory duty [for all people] to respect the Earth in all circumstances in their relation with each other.”(46)

The strengths of this approach are; it gives practical recognition of the Earth as an entity worthy of protection, it focuses on preventing the harm not on blame(47) and this regulatory characteristic shifts the “emphasis from the protection of individual interests to the protection of public and societal interests.”(48) The premise also utilises the punitive technique of social control(49) by holding responsible natural persons who do not take regard of their proper Duty of Earth Care.

The significant benefit in creating the Crime of Ecocide is that the International Criminal Court under the Rome Statute(50) is “designed to complement existing national judicial systems”(51) which will then implement their own national legislations(52) so enabling the shift(53) to happen quickly.

Central to achieving fast results is the rule of strict liability(54), removing the need to prove intent and ensuring that only the extent, gravity and effects of the harm need to be proved. Absolute liability will allow swift punishment of individuals to act as a deterrent and lead quickly to the prevention of further harm.

Legislation as Protection of the Environment in Queensland

“Federal and state agencies already serve as guardians and trustees of natural entities such as public lands, marine mammals, and ‘natural resources’ that have suffered damage.”(55)

In Queensland legislation against harm to the environment(56) has worked to some degree to stop land clearing, but has fallen down where government is complicit in; adding toxic substances to water supplies(57), approving large scale developments to house increased population in costal areas, and allowing pollution during coal and gas extraction(58).

The many statutes(59) written directly to protect the environment have not reduced the rate or extent of harm(60). This indicates that the key words in these legislations (such as “sustainability” and “responsibility”) are either not properly understood or are ignored by our Parliaments and Executive Governments. We are now reliant on the Judicature to slowly build a body of case law. The Land and Environment Court of New South Wales stated in Leatch v. National Parks and Wildlife Service(61) that the "precautionary principle"(62) had been referred to following the Rio Summit, but that necessary international endorsement had only occurred recently. The Court refused a license based on this principle and other cases have used it as authority(63).


It appears legislation here, as in the rest of the world, is designed to manage how much or how quickly we harm Nature. Protective legal tools are available to governments but appropriate, even-handed implementation requires an understanding of the uniqueness of nature and our dependence on it by the people, political will and judicial persistence.

In Queensland the statutes designed with environmental protection as all or part of their aims, are stated to be binding on “all persons including the state”(64), but most have disclaimers such as “the Commonwealth or a State cannot be prosecuted for an offence against this Act ”(65). Could this contradict the basis of the Rule of Law(66) where the law must apply evenly to all? In time, as ecological damage resulting from corporate behaviour and government complicity increases, this unwillingness to accept responsibility may destroy the faith the inhabitants of this territory have in their legal system.

The people of Queensland must hold their government accountable to the Constitution which places that government under an obligation to “foster the peace, welfare and good government of Queensland(67)” and to “determine to protect our unique environment”(68).

Where will the added impetus to do this come from?(69) Our indigenous people are disenfranchised therefore unable to push for changes to our constitution such as in Bolivia or Ecuador. Without international law providing elevated status and increased functions to environmental action groups, domestic governments will find difficulty in “…translating global obligations into domestic action and implementation.”(70) They will continue to deny their complicity in earth damage and refuse to place the onus of proof of ‘no harm’ on the developer or corporation and will refuse through disclaimers and arrogant decisions to accept the fiduciary duty they should have to the territory and its inhabitants over which they have sovereignty.

It is time to make legislation work towards compliance by adopting the international approaches of; empowering the indigenous in their traditional view of Nature as the source of all life, recognising Nature as a legal person with standing, supporting the Declaration of Rights of the Environment and making Ecocide, the Fifth Crime Against Peace. And finally, Australia as a signatory to the Rio Declaration must continue to implement the precautionary principle in all court decisions and legislation(71).

It is imperative to ensure we have many strings to our legal bow, to act for Mother Earth “overcome[ing] the political, economic, and social reasons(72) lying behind non-compliance”(73) before the damage is irreparable and we face a complete breakdown of all natural systems on which every species depends.


  1. The Royal Charter for the East India Trading Company 1600.
  2. One example is declaring that the land is not occupied ,’terra nullius’ as in British claim of land in Australia for the Crown.
  3. The Factory Act 1853 and many legislations since have supported the development of industry. Schooling developed to ensure those children who were not permitted to work in factories were learning skills to be used when they turned 9. As the working age increased, so public schooling developed to produce skilled workers.
  4. The East India Company (later the British East India Company), was an early joint-stock company which was able to gain significant monopolies. After 1863 they were able to lobby and to buy up other companies and so the era of the multinational global companies really began.
  5. Prior to the Industrial Revolution and the subsequent Fossil fuel Era, the proportion of people to Earth Resources was low and development, industry and resource extraction were encouraged as it was believed that the resources were ‘infinite’. As we move from a population of 6 to 9 billion in the next 20 years it is evident that the Earth is finite and is already unable to replenish the stores being used. David Suzuki 2004 in From Naked Ape to Super Species makes this very clear as he calls for the damage to stop and for humanity to live within its means. Now Nature needs legal protection if it is to flourish once more.
  6. Michael Meek Australian Legal System 2008 4th Edition Lawbook Co. ‘framework[s] of rules and institutions within a community or state, which at any time, the citizens have agreed will regulate and be binding upon themselves in their relations with one another and the community or the state.’
  7. The trial in February 2012 involving Deep Water Horizon Oil Rig on 20/4/10 to be held in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans) involves some class actions and some suits by individuals but no animal or natural system has been allowed standing. Transocean wants to limit its liability to $27 million. If liability is limited then the damages awarded will be shared among people who filed claims. If not limited then others can be compensated. But none of the funds are directly for the restoration of the ecosystems damaged. Some litigants may use the payments to do some restoration as happened after the Exxon Valdez Spill in 1989.
  8. Fiduciary relationship is ‘one in which a person is obliged, to a greater or lesser degree, to subordinate his or her own interests to the interests of another person’. Oxford Australian Law Dictionary, 25.
  9. ‘Legal personality is the possession of the capabilities to contract, sue and be sued, and hold property in a person’s own right and name’. Oxford Australian Law Dictionary, 525.
  10. Slavery Abolition Act 1833, (UK).
  11. The Australian Suffragette Movement began in 1880’s. Women were given the vote in SA in 1894.
  12. James Lovelock, The Revenge of Gaia, (Oxford University Press 2006)
  13. Jared Diamond Collapse:How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (Viking Penguin) 2005 417-41.
  14. Customary law is ‘the traditional law of indigenous peoples, generally oral, sometimes narrative or based on established performance practice…’ Oxford Australian Law Dictionary, 161.
    Mabo v Queensland (No 2), the High Court stated that it is possible for customary laws to co-exist with mainstream common law. All indigenous peoples include the rights of the Earth and other species into their laws.
  15. Polly Higgins includes all species when referring to ‘inhabitants’. (Polly Higgins at JCU Monday 12th September, 2010).
  16. Eduardo Galeano We Must Stop Playing Deaf an article from Does Nature Have Rights? ‘[N]ature has a lot to say and it has long been time for us, her children, to stop playing deaf.’ .
  17. Christopher D. Stone, Should Trees Have Standing? (Oceana Publications, Inc 1996) 20.
  18. ‘Existing legal systems have been unable to prevent or mitigate loss of biodiversity; environmental pollution; de-forestation; climate change; and the whole related range of human degradation of the planet. The reality is that legal systems treat the Earth as a “resource” and value it only as such when in fact it is the organism which sustains all forms of life. Earth Jurisprudence examines the legal relationship between humans and the Earth in that light.’Voices of Earth Jurisprudence.…/Intro-to-Earth-Jurisprudence
  19. Sierra Club v Morton, 405 U.S. 727 (1972) 405 U.S. 727.
  20. Ibid. ‘It is clear that an organization whose members are injured may represent those members in a proceeding for judicial review. But a mere "interest in a problem," no matter how longstanding the interest and no matter how qualified the organization is in evaluating the problem, is not sufficient by itself to render the organization "adversely affected" or "aggrieved" within the meaning of the APA.’.
  21. Ibid. Dissenting opinion by Justice William O. Douglas, “The critical question of "standing" would be simplified and also put neatly in focus if we fashioned a federal rule that allowed environmental issues to be litigated before federal agencies or federal courts in the name of the inanimate object about to be despoiled, defaced, or invaded by roads and bulldozers and where injury is the subject of public outrage. Contemporary public concern for protecting nature’s ecological equilibrium should lead to the conferral of standing upon environmental objects to sue for their own preservation. This suit would therefore be more properly labeled as Mineral King v. Morton.”
  22. Mabo v Queensland (No 2) [1992] HCA 23, (1992) 175 CLR 1 (1992.06.03).
  23. The Colonial period saw many European countries taking land in Africa, Asia., the Americas and Australia as colonies to be ruled from afar and for the bounty of those places to be taken back to continue and extend the wealth and population of the ‘Motherlands”.
  24. Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific R. Co. (1886), U.S. 394, 118.
  25. The Fourteenth Amendment to the American Constitution states granting citizenship to ‘all persons born or naturalized in the United States,’ which included former slaves recently freed. In addition, it forbids states from denying any person ‘life, liberty or property, without due process of law’ or to ‘deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’ By directly mentioning the role of the states, the 14th Amendment greatly expanded the protection of civil rights to all Americans and gave a way for corporations as legal persons to gain rights of the person without the punishment to people in decision making positions.
  26. Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific R. Co. (1886), U.S. 394, 118. Comment by Mr Chief Justice Waite: ‘the court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does.’
  27. The corporation is seen as having ‘separate legal personality’ which keeps it separate from the directors. This separateness is often termed ‘the corporate veil’. Oxford Australian Law Dictionary, 525.
  28. The Lincoln Encyclopedia, Archer H. Shaw (Macmillan, 1950, NY). President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864 in (letter to Col. William F. Elkins). ‘I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.’
  29. The utilitarian approach is juxtaposed by Christopher Stone in Should Trees Have Standing, 108.
  30. Union Carbide used their plant in Bhopal India as a toxic dump and did not carry out the monitoring and maintenance that would have been demanded in the West. CEO Warren Anderson is wanted in India to face charges of culpable homicide (manslaughter) after the deaths of 2000 people in 1984 from methyl isocyanate poisoning. The toxic site continues to cause harm over 20 years later.
  31.…/08/Intro-to-Earth-Jurisprudence-7-28-11.pdf p11 ‘Existing legal systems have been unable to prevent or mitigate loss of biodiversity; environmental pollution; de-forestation; climate change; and the whole related range of human degradation of the planet. The reality is that legal systems treat the Earth as a “resource” and value it only as such when in fact it is the organism which sustains all forms of life. Earth Jurisprudence examines the legal relationship between humans and the Earth in that light’.
  32. Christopher Stone, above n 17, 34.
  33. Ibid 34.
  34. Ibid 33.
  35. Ibid 29.
  36. Ibid 30.
  37. Ibid 22.
  38. Ibid 20.
  39. Ibid 21.
  40. Los Derechos de la Naturaleza: Rights-Based Protection for Pachamama by Mari Margil. ‘In 2008, Ecuador became the first country in the world to ratify a new constitution which recognizes the inalienable and fundamental rights of nature. In so doing, Ecuador became the very first country to base its system of environmental protection on rights, rather than on the idea that nature is property under the law.’…/Rights-Based-Protection-for-Pachama.
  41. Ecuador rewrote its Constitution in 2007-2008 and it was ratified in a referendum in September 2008. A new chapter includes ‘Rights for Nature’ acknowledges that nature has the right to exist and to perform its natural functions and gives the people the legal right to enforce nature’s rights.
  42. Ibid above n 40, 6. ‘In 2006, municipalities in the United States began to adopt the first-in-the-nation laws recognizing the inalienable Right of Nature. Among the first communities to do so was the Town of Barnstead in the State of New Hampshire.’
  43. If Earth had rights and Nature had standing then commercial decisions would be altogether different. Meeting the needs of humans would consider the Earth (the source) so as to ensure it continues to support all species and future generations.
  44. Polly Higgins Eradicating Ecocide (Shepeard-Walwyn Publishers Ltd, 2010) 70.
  45. Ibid 70 (Latin: ‘towards all’) meaning an obligation flowing to all.
  46. Ibid 70
  47. Ibid 68-69
  48. Ibid 69
  49. John Farrar, Anthony Dugdale, Introduction to Legal Method (Sweet and Maxwell, 3rd ed, 1990)17-
  50. ;
  51. Higgins above n 44, 70.
  52. Australia is a signatory along with 116 other countries. The United States has recently unsigned.
  53. Higgins above n 44 71 ‘…so the burden shifts dramatically, sending a powerful global message to the world, of a premise that applies to us all, not just those involved in business, or during war, to take responsibility for the well being of all life.’
  54. Intent not needed to be proven.
  55. Ibid above n 31, An Introduction to Earth jurisprudence: guiding Principles and Wild law Possibilities 23.
  56. Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld); Vegetation Management Act 1999 (Qld) has associated ability to slap Vegetation Protection Orders to stop landowners on private land from touching “significant” vegetation. On the Sunshine Coast this has been used to increase re-growth, therefore vegetation coverage figures, so that the State Government can then allocate permits to developers to clear fell areas for new suburbs such as Caloundra South and Palmwoods.
  57. Water Fluoridation Act 2008 makes adding fluoride to potable water obligatory whereas the 1963 legislation merely stated councils may add fluoride to water supplies.
  59. Nature Conservation Act 1992; Environmental Protection Act 1994; Land Act 1994 (relating to the pastoral leases);Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995; Vegetation Management Act 1999; Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004; Wild River Act 2005; Cape York Peninsular Heritage Act 2007; Sustainable Planning Act 2009; Green House Gas Storage Act 2009.
  60. Ibid above n 40 6. ‘… the major U.S. environmental laws – such as the federal Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act – were passed under the authority of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Thus laws treat the environment merely as a natural resource necessary for commerce, rather than as ecosystems to be protected in their own right.’
  61. Leatch v. Director-General of National Parks & Wildlife Service and Shoalhaven City Council [1993] NSWLEC 191.
  62. Rio Declaration Principle 15. ‘In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.’
  63. Schaffer Corporation Ltd v Hawkesbury City Council (1992).
  64. As in thePetroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004.
  65. As in the Water Fluoridation Act 2008 section 93.
  66. Speech by the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland to students at Melbourne Law School, 21 August 2008. “In Australia the rule of law and human rights are regarded as synonymous or at least mutually supportive. They are supported by:
    • our democratic system of responsible government
    • the separation of powers between the Parliament, Executive Government and the Judiciary
    • a professional judiciary whose independence is constitutionally protected and who hold all accountable for upholding the law
    • an independent media
    • an accountable, apolitical public service, and
    • a comprehensive administrative law system.
    And we have relatively sophisticated, albeit fragmented, anti-discrimination laws and also agencies, such as the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, who play an important part in advancing and protecting human rights. (Emphasis added).
  67. Constitution of Queensland , 2001Preamble (a).
  68. Ibid Preamble (d).
  69. Ibid. s3A, ‘The parliament does not in the preamble – (a) create in any person any legal right or give rise to any civil cause of civil action’.
  70. Phillip Sands, Principles of International Environmental Law Vol 1 Frameworks, standards and implementation (Manchester University Press 1995) 100.
  71. Rio Declaration, Principle 10. ‘Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided’.
  72. Polly Higgins is suggesting new Transition Enabling Act to fulfill this purpose. Presentation Kuranda Sept 14th , 2010.
  73. Ibid as above n 70,178.


  • Diamond, J. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Viking Penguin, 2005.
  • Higgins, Polly. Eradicating Ecocide. London: Shepheard-Walwyn (Publishers) Ltd, 2010.
  • Lovelock, James. The Revenge of Gaia: Why the earth is Fighting back – And How we Can Still Save Humanity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Melbourne University Law Review Association Inc Melbourne: Journal of International Law Inc. Australian Guide to legal Citation Third Edition .Melbourne, 2010.
  • Nash, Roderick. The Rights of Nature. Leichardt NSW: Premevara Press, 1990.
  • Sands, Philippe. Principles of International law I. Manchester: University Press, 1994.
  • Varner, Gary E. In Nature’s Interests? New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Zifcak, Spencer. Globalisation and the Rule of Law. London: Routledge, 2005.

Articles and papers:

  • David Cole, The Precautionary Principle – Its Origins and Role in Environmental Law, Adelaide, South Australia, February 2005.
  • Cormac Cullinan, If Nature Had Rights, Orion Magazine, January 2008.
  • Peter Burdon, Wild Law; The Philosophy of earth Jurisprudence, htt://
  • Ben Price (paraphrasing Jean-Jaques Rousseau ). What are Rights and how can Nature ‘have’ Rights ? Community Legal Defence Fund.
  • Eduardo Galeano, Atossa Soltani, Maude Barlow, Cormac Cullian, Does Nature Have Rights?
  • Oil Spil by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon” in the Gulf of Mexico , http/
  • Peter Burdon, The Rights of Nature: Reconsidered; Australian Humanities review issue 49.
  • Mari Margil , Los Derechos de la Naturaleza: Rights-Based Protection for Pachamama
  • Brandon Keim, Giving Nature Its Own Rights Might Avert Future Oil Disasters
  • Origin Magazine, April 22, 2011.


  1. Great article Janet. This is a matter that requires much in way of political advocacy. Unfortunately, I cannot see Australia and its two major parties or America with its head in the sand about the planet in general, being particularly interested.

  2. I believe that Switzerland has at least limited personhood to plant species, and forbids wanton interference with their genetic codes (as it does humans’) without hearings and safeguards.

    It would be interesting to gather such examples of best practices from around the world with an eye to codifying them before, say, the UN.

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