Why countries like Bolivia and New Zealand have awarded legal rights to non-humans

Source: The post is based on the article “Why countries like Bolivia and New Zealand have awarded legal rights to non-humans” published in Indian Express on 17th October 2022.

What is the News?

A report titled ‘Law in the Emerging Bio Age’ has proposed giving legal rights to plants, animals and non-living entities for building meaningful human-environment relationships.

What is the need of giving legal rights to non-humans?

Ethical conduct in the emerging Bio Age: The increased integration of biotechnology in human life will bring in the bio age. This integration is most likely to pervade lives in the future. It will mark the end of the digital Information Age.

Hence, this era will require legal intervention to hold researchers accountable for the impact of their work on the environment.

The granting of legal rights and protection to non-human systems – flora, fauna, rivers, ecosystems and landscapes – would recalibrate human-environment relationships and bring ethical conduct to the field.

How various countries are providing legal rights to non-humans?

Ecuador: It is the first country in the world to recognise the rights of nature.

– In 2008, Ecuador approved a Constitution that grants tropical forests, islands, rivers and air, legal rights to “exist, flourish and evolve”.

– In 2022, Ecuador became the first country to grant legal rights to individual wild animals.

Bolivia: Bolivia granted all nature rights equal to that of humans in 2011. It established the Law of the Rights of Mother Earth which redefined Mother Earth as an indivisible community of all living systems and living organisms, interrelated, interdependent and complementary, which share a common destiny.

New Zealand’s Whanganui river: First in the world to be given legal status

What is the status of legal rights to non-humans in India?

Article 51-A(g): It is the fundamental duty of every citizen to protect wildlife and have compassion for all living creatures.

Uttarakhand High Court Judgment (2017): It granted the river Ganga and its longest tributary Yamuna the legal right to be protected and not be harmed. However, SC stayed it due to various legal and administrative issues and said it was unsustainable.

The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 do not recognize animals as individual living entities.

Print Friendly and PDF