An Ecological Constitution

Turkey is the latest country to engage in a discussion about affording constitutional rights to Mother Earth. Following the example of Ecuador – the first country in the world to grant inalienable rights to Mother Nature – and Bolivia, some 40 Turkish politicians, academics and lawyers have organized the Initiative for an Ecological Constitution (IEC), which calls for an ecological approach to the country’s constitution.

Noting that the constitution is currently under review, Turkey’s Green Party spokesperson Ümit Şahin – one of 40 people involved in the IEC – said, “As Turkey has been talking about making a new constitution, which is supposed to value the individual, then we should be talking about an ecological approach to it.”

Şahin went on to name Ecuador and Bolivia as the group’s role models. Ecuador was the first country in the world to grant rights to Mother Earth. According to a blog by Andrew Revkin published on the New York Times in September 2008, Ecuador’s Constitutional Assembly worked with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a Pennsylvanian group providing legal assistance to governments and community groups trying to mesh human affairs and the environment. Together, they wrote the provisions in Ecuador’s Constitution that redefined people’s legal relationship with nature in the country.

More recently, Bolivia forwarded a piece of legislation called la Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra (the Law of Mother Earth), intended to encourage a radical shift in conservation attitudes and actions, to enforce new control measures on industry, and to reduce environmental destruction.

The IEC is hoping to build on these key precedents to pressure politicians after the June 12 general election in Turkey. After the elections, the new Parliament is expected to make a new constitution, which will provide an opportunity for the IEC to present a case for an ecological model.

Keph Senett

23 May 2011

PV Pulse

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