The Sami Parliament endorses the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth

By Rights of Nature Sweden

During the Assembly meeting ​​May 25th, the Sami Parliament decided to support the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth [see declaration text below].

The real Sami First Nation territory

The Declaration includes the right of Mother Earth and her beings to life and existence, respect, to regenerate its biocapacity and to continue its vital cycles and processes free from human disruptions. The Sami, like many other indigenous peoples, have everyday experiences of how climate change hits directly for example reindeer husbandry. Their traditional ways of life is hard-pressed between climate change and exploitative mining projects and forestry. The parliamentary motion was written by Marie Persson Njajta together with Mona Persson, members of the Sami Parliament. It was signed by several other members. Marie Persson Njajta hopes that the decision gives power to the discussion on how Rights of Nature can be implemented on local, national and global level.

This is a very important decision, says Marie Persson Njajta. We wrote it for our children and the possibilities for coming generations to live a good life. We believe a paradigm shift is needed towards a view where humans understand ourselves as part of nature, which is the way indigenous people relate to nature. We, the Sami people, believe that we belong to the land, not the other way around. Today we see how a colonial perspective, exploitation, and climate change threaten our culture. And it is not just us; it is a global issue. Governments and corporations don´t take these problems seriously, but disregard indigenous rights. The decision to support the Universal Declaration for the Rights of Mother Earth is a statement against the shortsightedness of governmental policy and the failing view that corporations have rights while nature does not.

The decision of the Sami Parliament is a vital step in strengthening the Rights of Nature framework, says Pella Larsdotter Thiel, from the Rights of Nature network in Sweden. Sweden has a high profile internationally in sustainability issues, but like other countries, we systematically deplete and impoverish our ecosystems. It is very encouraging that the Sami people in Sweden, like indigenous peoples in other parts of the world, take the lead in this necessary shift in how we view nature; from a resource for humans to a living whole we participate in.

The Declaration was first presented at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia, which in 2010 gathered more than 35,000 people from over 100 countries. It has since been presented to the UN General Assembly, and over 800,000 people have signed for the UN to adopt the declaration. Cormac Cullinan, lawyer and spokesperson for Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature who led the drafting of the Declaration, welcomes the historic decision of the Sami Parliament.

By endorsing the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, the Parliament and the Sami people have joined forces with the many indigenous peoples, local communities, organizations and people throughout the world who are working together to reawaken consumerist societies to the reality that our first duty as human beings is to recognize and respect the rights of every member of the Earth community to play their unique role in that community. The Sami have never forgotten to be grateful and respectful to Nature for giving us life – by supporting the Declaration they are signaling their commitment to reminding all who have forgotten that our future depends on giving effective legal protection to the whole Earth community.

This year sees the 10th anniversary of the first major decision on Nature’s Rights, Ecuador included Rights of Nature in its constitution in 2008. The framework is now spreading rapidly with decisions about rivers, forests and mountains as legal subjects in, among others, the New Zealand Parliament, the Supreme Court of Colombia and the Supreme Court of the Indian State of Uttarpradesh.


Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth

April 22, 2010
World People’s Conference on Climate Change
and the Rights of Mother Earthersal Declaration

Cochabamba, Bolivia


We, the peoples and nations of Earth:

considering that we are all part of Mother Earth, an indivisible, living community of interrelated and interdependent beings with a common destiny;

gratefully acknowledging that Mother Earth is the source of life, nourishment and learning and provides everything we need to live well;

recognizing that the capitalist system and all forms of depredation, exploitation, abuse and contamination have caused great destruction, degradation and disruption of Mother Earth, putting life as we know it today at risk through phenomena such as climate change;

convinced that in an interdependent living community it is not possible to recognize the rights of only human beings without causing an imbalance within Mother Earth;

affirming that to guarantee human rights it is necessary to recognize and defend the rights of Mother Earth and all beings in her and that there are existing cultures, practices and laws that do so;

conscious of the urgency of taking decisive, collective action to transform structures and systems that cause climate change and other threats to Mother Earth;

proclaim this Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, and call on the General Assembly of the United Nation to adopt it, as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations of the world, and to the end that every individual and institution takes responsibility for promoting through teaching, education, and consciousness raising, respect for the rights recognized in this Declaration and ensure through prompt and progressive measures and mechanisms, national and international, their universal and effective recognition and observance among all peoples and States in the world.

Article 1. Mother Earth

(1)  Mother Earth is a living being.

(2)  Mother Earth is a unique, indivisible, self-regulating community of interrelated beings that sustains, contains and reproduces all beings.

(3)  Each being is defined by its relationships as an integral part of Mother Earth.

(4)  The inherent rights of Mother Earth are inalienable in that they arise from the same source as existence.

(5)  Mother Earth and all beings are entitled to all the inherent rights recognized in this Declaration without distinction of any kind, such as may be made between organic and inorganic beings, species, origin, use to human beings, or any other status.

(6)  Just as human beings have human rights, all other beings also have rights which are specific to their species or kind and appropriate for their role and function within the communities within which they exist.

(7)  The rights of each being are limited by the rights of other beings and any conflict between their rights must be resolved in a way that maintains the integrity, balance and health of Mother Earth.

Article 2. Inherent Rights of Mother Earth

(1)  Mother Earth and all beings of which she is composed have the following inherent rights:

(a)  the right to life and to exist;

(b)  the right to be respected;

(c)  the right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue its vital cycles and processes free from human disruptions;

(d)  the right to maintain its identity and integrity as a distinct, self-regulating and interrelated being;

(e)  the right to water as a source of life;

(f)   the right to clean air;

(g)  the right to integral health;

(h)   the right to be free from contamination, pollution and toxic or radioactive waste;

(i)    the right to not have its genetic structure modified or disrupted in a manner that threatens its integrity or vital and healthy functioning;

(j)    the right to full and prompt restoration for violation of the rights recognized in this Declaration caused by human activities;

(2)  Each being has the right to a place and to play its role in Mother Earth for her harmonious functioning.

(3)  Every being has the right to wellbeing and to live free from torture or cruel treatment by human beings.

Article 3. Obligations of human beings to Mother Earth

(1)  Every human being is responsible for respecting and living in harmony with Mother Earth.

(2)  Human beings, all States, and all public and private institutions must:

(a)  act in accordance with the rights and obligations recognized in this Declaration;

(b)  recognize and promote the full implementation and enforcement of the rights and obligations recognized in this Declaration;

(c)  promote and participate in learning, analysis, interpretation and communication about how to live in harmony with Mother Earth in accordance with this Declaration;

(d)  ensure that the pursuit of human wellbeing contributes to the wellbeing of Mother Earth, now and in the future;

(e)  establish and apply effective norms and laws for the defence, protection and conservation of the rights of Mother Earth;

(f)   respect, protect, conserve and where necessary, restore the integrity, of the vital ecological cycles, processes and balances of Mother Earth;

(g)  guarantee that the damages caused by human violations of the inherent rights recognized in this Declaration are rectified and that those responsible are held accountable for restoring the integrity and health of Mother Earth;

(h)  empower human beings and institutions to defend the rights of Mother Earth and of all beings;

(i)    establish precautionary and restrictive measures to prevent human activities from causing species extinction, the destruction of ecosystems or the disruption of ecological cycles;

(j)    guarantee peace and eliminate nuclear, chemical and biological weapons;

(k)  promote and support practices of respect for Mother Earth and all beings, in accordance with their own cultures, traditions and customs;

(l)    promote economic systems that are in harmony with Mother Earth and in accordance with the rights recognized in this Declaration.

Article 4. Definitions

(1)  The term “being” includes ecosystems, natural communities, species and all other natural entities which exist as part of Mother Earth.

(2)  Nothing in this Declaration restricts the recognition of other inherent rights of all beings or specified beings.

Printable PDF of Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth

ENGAGE to let YOUR NATION value Nature as a living being,
to say Yes to the Rights of Nature and to endorse the
Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Nature!