People For Earth

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Legal Personality of Natural Features: Recent International Developments
  • 2023-08-03
  • 126
This student research memo discusses recent international developments that grant legal personality and related rights to natural features, including water bodies, related natural features, and sacred water beings.

Part II of this memo discusses the legal personality of natural features. It is divided into three subsections. The first subsection provides an introduction to the concept of legal personality, and an introduction to the rights of nature movement. The second subsection discusses five case studies from around the world, where natural features were granted legal personality. This subsection includes the case study of the Te Awa Tupua/Whanganui River in Aotearoa New Zealand and the Te Urewera forest in Aotearoa New Zealand, a case study of the Ganga and Yamuna Rivers and associated natural features in India, and case studies of Ecuador’s Vilcabamba River and Colombia’s Rio Atrato River. Each of these case studies sets out background context for the case study, and discusses:
- the method of legal recognition used to grant legal personality to the natural feature;
- the scope of protection;
- how the natural feature is legally represented;
- the impact of the designation on human relationships with natural features and sacred beings; and
- the implementation of the designation and practical outcomes.