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Ecuador's Highest Court Enforces Constitutional ‘Rights of Nature’ to Safeguard Los Cedros Protected Forest

December 21, 2021

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Victoria Keichel

Katrina Lehmann-Grube

Marian Drew

Cormac Cullinan

The Wild Law Institute (WildLI) celebrates the historic decision of the Constitutional Court of Ecuador on 1 December 2021 to prohibit mining and other extractive activities that threatens the Rights of Nature within the ecosystem of Los Cedros Protected Forest.

WildLI director Cormac Cullinan was a member of a team of lawyers who drafted an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief that was submitted to the Constitutional Court in September 2020. The brief urged the court to uphold the articles in Ecuador’s constitution that require the State to protect the rights of Nature to exist and to sustain and regenerate its life cycles, structure, functions and evolutionary processes.

The judgment is of great significance, not only for the endangered frogs, spectacled bears, and rare brown-headed spider monkeys of the Los Cedros cloud forest, but also for Ecuador and the world as a whole. By basing its decision on the rights of Nature, the Constitutional Court has established an important Earth jurisprudence precedent that will influence other courts in other countries.  Earth jurisprudence is a legal philosophy popularised by Wild Law (2002), that proposes that the primary purpose of a legal system must be to guide humanity to be a beneficial rather than a destructive presence within the community of life. It proposes that in order for humanity to flourish in the long term, humans must respect and protect the rights of all beings to exist and play their unique roles within the incredibly beautiful and complex community of life we call 'Earth'.” – Cormac Cullinan, Wild Law Institute Director

Image Credit: @MurrayCooperPhoto