Good morning to all the honorable representatives of parliament at the twenty-fourth Executive Committee Meeting of the Parliamentary Confederation of the Americas, the Executive Network of Parliamentarian Women and the Meeting of the Commission on Environment and Sustainable Development. My congratulations to this organization which brings together the congresses and parliamentary assemblies of unitary, federal, federated and associated States, Regional Parliaments and Inter Parliamentary Organizations of the Americas.
On behalf of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace, I am grateful for the opportunity you have given me to participate in these important meetings because there are people in this setting who strive to appropriately carry this responsibility of looking after the interests, to channel the solution of problems and to guide social and economic growth and development of the nations they represent.
I would like to begin the speech with a quote from the wisdom of the natives or native people of North America, which is attributed to Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa Tribe:
“When the blood in your veins returns to the sea,
and the dust in your bones back to the ground,
maybe you will remember that this earth
does not belong to you,
but YOU belong to this earth.”
Keeping this phrase in our minds, I ask you, please, observe the images I will present. They are accompanied with the sounds captured by twin probes RBSP in 2012, with which the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA (its acronym) has scientifically confirmed that our Mother Earth speaks.
In 2012, NASA released the best image of our Mother Earth:
The image on the left shows a photograph of our Mother Earth taken from space in 1978. The photograph on the right is from 2012. We can see how in only 34 years, the territory of North America has suffered a significant degradation.
Let us continue observing a small sample of the damage humanity has caused to our Mother Earth.
Cancun, Mexico - 1979 and 2009: The fast growth of urban population in Cancun, Mexico, as well as the inordinate amount of contaminated water that flows into the Mexican coast, among other things, has meant a loss of biodiversity in the area.
Rondonia, Brazil - 1975-2009: The image shows us that the state of Rondonia in western Brazil is one of the most deforested areas of the Amazon in South America.
Alberta, Canada - 2000-2007: You can see the deterioration caused by the growth of petroleum sand mines on the shores of the Athabasca River during the decade of 2000.
Utah, United States - 2000-2007: The Colorado River begins at the Rocky Mountains and flows through southwestern United States. The complex system of dams and reservoirs built to supply Las Vegas and other cities with water, have dramatically changed the ecosystem of this region and almost absorbed the watercourse of the river.
MOTHER EARTH HAS LIFE
MOTHER EARTH IS A LIVING BEING
This is not a new concept. Our native people, natives in different continents do consider it to be this way, and therefore they care, protect, respect and honor it her.
Gea, Gaia, Rangi, Iriria, Pachamama, Tara, Bura-Bura...Were the names our ancestors used and still native people call Mother Earth this way. Then, why are there large parts of humanity that do not consider her as such?
MOTHER EARTH WAS BORN FREE, we, humans, did not create her, we were created by her. This is why we are called upon to fraternally behave toward Mother Earth and other living beings. But instead of caring for her as our life source, we have dedicated ourselves to damage her, destroy her, without realizing that we are destroying ourselves. That is why we insist that OUR MOTHER EARTH IS A LIVING BEING and as such, she must be protected.
Great communities and scientific experts have presented studies, theories and hypothesis that consider our Mother Earth a living organism, able to self-regulate. The hypothesis or theory of Gaia is noteworthy, whose chemical precursor, researcher and British scientist James Lovelock, co-developed by biologist Lynn Margulis since 1969. After four global conventions on this hypothesis, in 2001, more than one thousand scientists from 100 countries belonging to several World Research Programs, in an event sponsored by the United Nations, approved and signed the Amsterdam Declaration on Global Change, where they support these scientific theories.
Based on this, in 2009 the UN approved Resolution 63/278 in which they recognize that Mother Earth and its ecosystems are our home, and that there is an interdependence between human beings, other species and herself, thus declaring the International Mother Earth Day.
Taking into account the ancestral, scientific and humanistic principles, global recognition of Mother Earth as a living being that gives origin to all that is developed on her, is necessary. And by considering her a living being, it is a subject of rights that all human beings must respect. Mother Earth and all her children, including the human species, have the inalienable right to life and to live in peace.
Since 1972, different social organizations fought for this acknowledgement and have made great progress for this purpose.
In 1982 the UN approved the World Charter for Nature.
In 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development was carried out, declaring “the integral and interdependent nature of Earth, our home.”
In 2000, thanks to the outstanding participation of intellectuals, academics and civil society, the Earth Charter was passed, which calls for “respect and care for life in all its diversity with understanding, compassion and love.”
In 2009, the UN approved Resolution 64/196 in which it is proposed unto humanity to work for the “promotion of life in harmony with nature and to transmit to the General Secretary their views, experiences and proposals thereon.”
In 2010, in the framework of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, social organizations from 197 countries worked and approved the Project of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia. This project was presented at the Cancun COP 2010 and the Rio Summit in 2012, but it has not been continued or globally promoted.
Then, what are the people of the world waiting for, especially the Americas, to recognize, respect and protect the Rights of Mother Earth? Just as she has life, she has her cycles and natural laws. The paradox is that Mother Earth has been subjected to the decisions or unscrupulous actions of human beings. We should be the ones to subject to those laws because Mother Earth came first and human beings come from her.
As you know, some countries in the Americas have taken a step forward in that direction. Like Ecuador’s Constitution, which recognizes the rights of nature or Pachamama, and Bolivia which declared the “Law on Rights of Mother Earth.”
The importance to protect the environment is recognized in the constitutions and environmental laws of the Americas, but they do not recognize Mother Earth was a living being that sustains other species, but rather as an asset to protect.
Therefore, as a contribution of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace, we will present the legal definition proposed by our institution of what Mother Earth as a Living Being means, so that you, Parliamentarians of the Americas, can take to it your respective countries, follow up on the previous proposal and proceed to push the respective legal initiatives giving effect to these constitutional changes and legal adjustments:
“We call Mother Earth the planet from which we were created, as well as the different forms that make up the biosphere, atmosphere, biodiversity and ecosystems; of which we rely on because they provide a home, food, medicine and resources for working and satisfying our every need. It is a living being, which transmits life to all ecological processes and systems essential to the survival of every species, including humans; it has its own cycle and natural laws that must be respected, defended and protected for the support and maintenance of life on Mother Earth.”
We all have a mother which brought us into this world, whom we respect, protect and thank for giving us life. Thus, we also have Mother Earth. Our physical body comes from her dust; she gives us a home, provides us with everything we need to survive: water, the air we breathe, food to live, medicine, and even resources to work and develop our economy.
For this reason we must also respect it, protect it, care for it, because the preservation of all the living beings that inhabit her, depend on her.
Unfortunately, many of the people of the earth have ignored their origin, what we are, to whom we owe our existence and livelihood. Our Mother Earth is giving us signs, she is speaking to us, she is telling us that she has been enslaved, abused, ignored and is sick.
The majority of human beings have an ungrateful behavior towards Mother Earth, instead of taking care of her as their main life source, they have dedicated themselves to harm her; while our Mother Earth recognizes the rights of humans to exist and contributes to the preservation of our existence.
The idea here is to point out the fact that human beings depend on Mother Earth. We cannot pretend to live apart from her. A great deal of humanity has put their personal interests above the interests of the rest of the living beings, and by acting this way they attempt not only against their rights but also against the fundamental rights of future generations.
For this reason, we are called upon to reconnect with our Mother Earth and to establish the groundwork that will enable a sustainable future, where the interrelationship between fundamental rights of the human being and the fundamental rights of Mother Earth and her children are recognized.
Taking into account the background of recent history, the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace proposes that the States and American Nation recognize that our Mother Earth is a living being which our life depends on and as such, she has rights that must be recognized, respected, protected and preserved; and if our existence depends on the recognition of Mother Earths rights, those rights must have the same binding force that human rights currently have. Therefore, the insertion must be propelled in the Constitutional Charters of each country and in their secondary laws.
For the success of this proposal, you can follow the subsequent guidelines:
1. Consecrate at the Constitutional level the precise recognition of the Rights of Mother Earth, under the fundamental rights category; and the obligation authorities have in their area of competence to promote, respect, protect and preserve them. Establishing mechanisms to protect and defend the Rights of Mother Earth.
2. Issue a secondary law or a regulation of the previous constitutional provision in which each of Mother Earth’s Rights are recognized and specified; and the mechanisms for her defense and protection are established. Besides criminalizing the offenses that may be committed by violating these rights, penalties and procedures needed for the investigation, prosecution and punishment of those responsible.
The human being was made to guide, respect, care for and protect our Mother Earth; to be the guardian of the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and all her ecosystems. If we speak in legal terms, the human being is the legal guardian of Mother Earth, therefore, we have the fiduciary obligation and duty to care for her and all the species that inhabit her.
Although, since 1972 they have held conferences and summits with the intention of creating a new ecological awareness and educational model among people and nations; to prevent and find solutions to environmental problems that threaten the sustainability of the planet. These measures have not been enough to stop the serious consequences of the abuse towards our Mother Earth.
The main topics of the above mentioned have been climate change, soil degradation, deterioration of coasts and oceans, chemical and nuclear toxic waste, pollution of land, water and air, deterioration in the quality of people’s lives and lack of protection of indigenous people.
For over forty years, the global debate on the issue of climate change and sustainable development still remains. Both issues have become a problem for everyone, looking towards the future, to achieve the desired equilibrium to industrially produce without affecting the environment.
Great effort is needed from the world’s community, to achieve more effective cooperation agreements to protect and safeguard the balance and quality of life on our Mother Earth.
The problems faced by Mother Earth do not compromise a single State, but all the nations; therefore, my call is for International Solidarity. It is time for Nations to establish a firm commitment and arrange protection mechanisms and effective respect for the Rights of Mother Earth in the International Rights field; which cannot be subordinated exclusively to national jurisdictions because these rights are a universal hierarchy and therefore, its recognition and affirmation constitute the only solid basis of international common good based on the rule of law.
The implementation of actions for the defense of Earth’s Rights, does not only rest in the States, acting in a sovereign manner under their domestic law, but it is also a legitimate task of the international community because we are all interested in its preservation.
It is for these reasons that the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace joins the work that has already been carried out for several years by organizations such as the civil society, government agencies and international regimes, the United Nations, especially the United Nations Commission on International Law; which, at least since the late 20th century, has been preparing the approval of a Code of Crimes against Peace and Humanity including among them the willful and sever damage caused to the environment.
As it is stated by the international organization (which fights for the elimination of ecocide) “The end of ecocide on Earth,” in their official website: “Mother Earth suffers because of the modern global industrial society which results in massive extinction of species and climatic change, putting at risk the survival of future generations. To sustain biodiversity and the health of future generations, we need to have a new definition of wellbeing and prosperity for all the forms of life within the limits and in the recognition of the Rights of Nature. And it requires an international legal framework to protect those rights of greedy corporations.”
It is necessary to raise humanity’s awareness, especially the international authorities, that the damages caused to Mother Earth are a global problem which require worldwide solutions. In this framework, the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace alongside other international organizations promotes the classification of a domestic and international crime such as Ecocide so that it becomes the Fifth Crime, competence of the International Criminal Court. Ecocide should also be criminalized in national legislation; to respond to the challenge of curbing impunity for crimes against Mother Earth and prosecute those who destroy, those who are undermining the foundations of the World Society and threaten the existence of Mother Earth.
Ecocide has been widely described and discussed in many instances. Since 1970, the concept of Ecocide as an international crime was proclaimed at a conference in Washington, and was presented by Arthur Galston. In 1972, in different international conferences and conventions on this subject, he brought to light the use of chemical weapons in the Vietnam War considering it Ecocide.
At the Convention of the United Nations on the Ecocide of War in 1973, Richard Falk and Robert Jay drafted an agreement to declare and explicitly recognize “that man, consciously and unconsciously, has caused irreparable damage to the environment in times of war and peace.”
In 1996, Canadian-Australian lawyer, Mark Gray, published his Proposal from 1988 of an international crime of Ecocide based on the international rights of the established human and environmental rights. Moreover, Ecocide was discussed by the International Law Commission on the Draft Code of Crimes against Peace and the Security of mankind, which later became the Rome Statute. While the Rome Statute encodes four crimes (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression) Ecocide was considered at the time but it was excluded and relegated as a “crime against the environment.”
In 2010, Polly Higgins, lawyer and expert in environmental Rights, led the initiative “Eradicating Ecocide” in order to make it a crime, submitting a proposal to the Law Commission of the UN, and in 2012 in several conferences and world summits.
Taking these initiatives into consideration, and based on the different investigations and input from experts, I will proceed to present the concept we will be promoting from the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace:
“The complete or partial destruction of one or more of the existing ecosystems, in any region of planet earth; indiscriminately hunting and fishing which causes or threatens the extinction of any animal species; the exploitation beyond the reasonable use of soil and threatening or causing erosion or deforestation; as well as pollution of the sources of the living beings, such as water and air, or any other serious harm being caused to the environment and natural resources of mother earth, threatening any form of life, or threatening extinction. All of these mentioned facts, provided they are caused by the intervention of human activity, in an intentional or neglectful, direct or indirect form.”
This is what the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace is looking for: Face the challenge of defending our Mother Earth of all predators, through awareness, education and action, and also punishing those responsible.
What is intended is to provide the international community with a legal instrument that allows to tackle the worst situations that are beyond national jurisdiction. Protect Mother Earth, even through criminal law as a last resort, meaning in the long term, the guarantee of the survival of mankind.
Based on the universal recognition of Mother Earth as a living being and stop its deterioration, as well as the defined crime of Ecocide, the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace is working in different fields of society; using education as a means to raise awareness among mankind, and especially our children and youth, the importance of love, care, respect, saving, protecting and helping the restoration of Mother Earth. It is important to establish a sustainable balance between the use of its resources, the protection and conservation of Mother Earth and all her children.
The Global Embassy of Activists for Peace is designing an Environmental Communicational Education Program; its main objective is to promote awareness of recognizing Mother Earth as a living being, and as such, subject to rights in order to form sustainable green citizenship in harmony with all the elements that comprise it. This Environmental Communicational Education Program seeks to strengthen values and universal principles for the defense of the rights of our Mother Earth and all that comprises it, ensuring a sustainable way of life.
The environmental communicational education program for the defense of our mother earth and the formation of a sustainable green citizenship (PEC-EARTH) is based on four pillars:
1. Promote universal values and principles for a harmonious, peaceful and sustainable coexistence with our Mother Earth and everything that composes it.
2. Promote the rights of Mother Earth so that each citizen becomes a “Universal Green Guardian” (GUV)
3. Implement the environmental communicational education program for the defense of Mother Earth and the formation of a sustainable green citizenship (PEC-EARTH) of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace in all spheres of the human family.
4. By all means spread a communication campaign that supports the above mentioned, created on the basis of the philosophical and theoretical foundations of PEC-TIERRA of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace, which is aimed at groups of all ages and adaptable to the culture of each country.
Finally, I invite you all to celebrate with joy the life of our Mother Earth, on the day assigned by the United Nations to honor her on April 22. The Global Embassy of Activists for Peace will celebrate with various activities throughout the countries in which we are established.
We also invite you to the World Congress of Green Citizenship towards a sustainable culture, which will take place from September 22nd until the 25th, 2015 in Valencia, Venezuela; which is organized by the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace, the International Green Life Foundation, among other global environmental organizations.
Join us and become a part of the generation that will change the course of human history and of our Mother Earth. You, as legislators, have a huge responsibility not only before the society of the country you represent; but before the global problems afflicting humanity, because the damage to our Mother Earth goes beyond the borders of our countries, threatening the survival of all living beings. We invite you to change history today, while there is still time. Let us recognize, respect, protect and preserve the rights of Mother Earth.
It is here and now, agreeing on a compromise among those who make up the Parliamentary Confederation of the Americas, enclosed among the following guidelines:
1. Recognize that Mother Earth is a living being, and as such has rights that must be protected and preserved. Those rights are immersed in the World Charter of Nature, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, in Resolution 37/7 of October 28, 1982. The defense of the rights of Mother Earth must have the same binding which Human Rights currently has conferred, and therefore, its insertion into the Charters of the respective countries and its secondary laws, should be encouraged.
2. Promote adherence by signing and ratifying the World Charter for Nature, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 37/7 of October 28, 1982. (If your respective governments have not done so).
3. Order an internal review of the environmental legislation of your country to determine whether it meets the objectives of establishing public policies to reverse or at least stop the degradation of the ecosystems, geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and other collateral problems.
4. Independent of the proposal that has been promoted by the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace to make Ecocide the Fifth Crime jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, proceed to the appropriate definition of that crime in their national criminal laws. The review of integral legal instruments and particularly the federal criminal coding, for setting up the crimes for damage to nature is necessary. If they do not exist, proceed to incorporate them, so that in addition to pursuing reparations, those responsible are severely punished. In addition to boosting the necessary changes at the legislative level, so that enforcement systems and administration of justice implement the creation of specialized prosecutors and public observatories in the investigation and prosecution of environmental crimes where they still do not exist; as well as the establishment in the judiciary field, the specialized Courts in charge of administering justice for the attacks Mother Earth suffers. In this same order, it is proposed, at the regional level, the creation of a COURT OF THE AMERICAS FOR MOTHER EARTH, specializing in the prosecution and punishment of crimes against Mother Earth in the American territory.
5. Unify all environmental legislation that exists in the international field from the various bilateral and multilateral treaties on the protection and preservation of the environment and natural resources that have been approved and ratified by each of your countries; and proceed to adapt these treaties in domestic legislation in the respective Constitutions and secondary laws.
6. Establish educational and communicational programs on environmental issues on a mandatory and transversal basis at formal and informal education systems, public and private media, families, communities, businesses and public organizations for the promotion and training of a sustainable green citizenship, so that new generations grow up with the awareness of recognizing Mother Earth as a living being, and civic engagement to defend its rights, to protect everything that she is made of and make good use of its resources in a harmonious and sustainable way.
In conclusion, we propose the adoption of a Parliamentary Pact of the Americas with the guidelines that have been set in the previous six points; so that a firm commitment is established among the legislators present to work for the fulfillment of these goals; counting with the continued support of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace for the preparation of draft laws or relevant initiatives.
We cannot detach ourselves from Mother Earth, we are part of it; if we offend her, we will pay the consequences. There is a universal law of causes and consequences; just as there is a Christian Bible text that speaks of the Law of sowing and reaping; we effectively reap what we sow. If we want a better tomorrow for all, we must begin to work to restore the health and wellbeing of the only home we, as living beings, have: Mother Earth.
You have the power to legislate and bring about the changes; give yourself the opportunity to do it now for your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and all of your descendants. All we want is peace and the complete happiness of every human being, living in a better, fair, balanced world and in harmony with our Mother Earth.
I leave with you Mrs. Carmen Salzano, social communicator, environmentalist and board member of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace, who will offer our conclusions and will kindly answer your questions.
Thank you very much.