How to make the North Sea a legal person? A sea with its own rights, so that health and well-being are respected. In the essay collection “The Voice of the North Sea”, lawyer and writer Laura Burgers gives the sea a voice with rights. She tells Focus.
It might sound a bit strange, just for a large pool of water. But beware what you find strange: people once also thought it was absurd that slaves and women had rights, and unthinkable that an embryo had rights, or companies and universities. . Now they all have rights, and fortunately.
Nature has no rights when something is done to her
Moreover, it would not be the first time that an element of nature has been granted rights. In other countries, forests and rivers already have their own rights, which they can actually assert before a judge through a representative. “It started in 2008,” said Laura Burgers. “Ecuador then incorporated into the constitution that ‘pachamama’ (mother earth) has the right to full respect for its existence because it is the basis of all life.”
Bolivia followed with a law on the rights of mother nature, and there are now around 400 initiatives around the world in which these rights of nature have taken shape in one way or another. The Whanganui River in New Zealand was also granted legal entity status in 2017 thanks to decades of efforts by Maori tribes. W.why not the North Sea?
Such a legal status of nature often has two kinds of consequences. “Convenient to nature or a river [zonder zo’n status] no rights if injured. So they can’t go to court to prove their point of view. With such a status, it is possible – of course through an intermediary.
But there is also a symbolic consequence: “The [gebrek aan rechten voor de natuur] reflects an idea that has existed since the Enlightenment, namely that there is a kind of dichotomy between the human world and the natural world. I think this dichotomy is out of date. At this time, which is called the Anthropocene – the era of man you see it is not tenable – you clearly see that our actions have an impact on nature. We thought we could conquer nature, exploit it to our advantage. But this is not a tenable idea, it will come back like a kind of boomerang. “
Laura Burgers, Eva Meijers and Evanne Nowak’s collection of essays, “ The Voice of the North Sea ”, was on the long list for the Socrates Cup, the prize for the most urgent, original and fascinating philosophy book of the year.
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