Earth Law

Making Ecocide a crime sits at the heart of an emerging body of law called Earth Law.  Earth law puts people and planet first, and ensures the well being of the whole Earth community.  Earth Law recognises that the Earth is the source of laws which govern life. It recognises that the Earth has natural limits and boundaries and laws which we must comply with, for the well-being of the whole Earth Community and future generations.

The term Earth Law has evolved from cultural historian Thomas Berry’s vision of ‘Earth Jurisprudence’, which many indigenous peoples and local communities have been practicing for centuries.
There is a growing network called the Earth Law network which is made up of a number of organisations, communities, individuals, and alliances working towards advocating and practicing Earth Law.   This includes the Gaia Foundation, African Biodiversity Network (www.africanbiodiversity.org), Wild Law UK (www.wildlawuk.org), the Global Alliance for Rights of Nature, and many more. The Earth Law Network is coordinated from the Gaia Foundation’s website.

Read about the history of Earth Law.

Read about Earth Law principles and precedents.

Community Bill of Rights

While a law of Ecocide is an example of International Earth Law, there are examples of Earth Law happening at local levels too.  Community Bills of Rights have been pioneered in the US by the Community Environmental Legal Defence Fund (CELDF) in recent years. They are local laws to elevate the rights of communities and nature above corporate rights, and they have proved effective in empowering communities to allow them to determine whether corporate developments, such as fracking, can proceed.

Community Bills of Rights are an example of bottom up legal systematic change.  Where communities feel that their voices are not being heard Community Bills of Rights redirect rights, so that people and planet are put first. This has parallels in successful rights based movements like the abolitionists and the suffragettes.

In the UK  man communities can be empowered in the same way as has happened under a Community Bill of Rights in the US.  Melanie Strickland is the lawyer working on pioneering Community Bills of Rights in the UK and is part of the growing  civil rights movement which puts people and planet before profit.

A Community Bill of Rights changes the legal framework in two fundamental ways:
i) it enshrines the right to local community self government by giving the local people the right to decide what happens in their communities;

ii)  it recognise the rights of nature.  By identifying that nature has intrinsic value, and is not merely property a Community Bill of Rights is an example of Earth law which complements and supports law to eradicate ecocide at the international level.

Read more about legal frameworks to promote sustainable communities.

Strategic Partnerships