The Movement for Biocultural Rights


The notion of ‘biocultural rights’ goes beyond individual rights and private property to explicitly recognize a community’s identity, culture, governance system, spirituality and way of life as embedded in a specific landscape. It represents a bold new departure in human rights law that recognizes the importance of a community’s stewardship over lands and waters. The emerging movement for biocultural rights is woven from four main strands:

  • “post-development” advocates who are articulating a vision for human society beyond the discredited neoliberal paradigm;
  • the commons movement that rejects the “tragedy” fable and empirically demonstrates the effectiveness of local self-governance;
  • the movement of indigenous peoples asserting their right to self-determination, cultural heritage and stewardship of the land; and
  • the push for a “third generation” of environmental human rights that go beyond basic civil and political rights (first generation) and socio-economic and cultural rights (second generation), to recognize community rights to self-determination, economic and social development, cultural heritage and a clean and healthy environment.

Read David Bollier’s short article “The Rise of Biocultural Rights” and dig deeper with the longer and more detailed proposal by Kabir Sanjay Bavikatte and Tom Bennett,  Community Stewardship: the foundation of biocultural rights

Illustration (quilt) by Harriet Powers

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From: Stream

Legal Rights for Mother Earth

bolivia-rightsDepending on who’s asking, the idea of giving legal rights to nature may seem completely outlandish or entirely sensible. Bolivia, which currently has a government with an indigenous majority is in a process of enshrining legal rights for the natural world.

It’s not without paradox, for the economy of the country is reliant on extractive industries such as mining and natural gas production, but it’s nevertheless a milestone in the diverse global movement expressed by some as eradicating ecocide.

Read the article >>

Posted in Liberation
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From: Stream