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Recognising Rights of Mother Earth: Entrenching Earth Jurisprudence in Uganda

Why the Need for Earth Jurisprudence in Uganda?

Earth Jurisprudence advocates for legal recognition and respect of all species and components of the Earth, integral for maintaining conditions for life as we know it.

Accruing Ecological Crises and Challenges

The global ecosystem has entered into a negative feedback loop, meaning our Earth systems are unravelling – climate change, devastating air and water pollution, vastly accelerated species extinction, and the dramatic loss of food and water systems which are necessary for sustaining all life on the planet. 

The defilement of Mother Earth by humans has caused untold damage to the environment, and is especially accelerated by commercial interests driven solely to increase profits by extracting as much as possible from Nature. 

Short-term human interests, fueled by an insatiable drive to accumulate money and power, have been enshrined in various laws with total disregard for the well-being of the living Earth Community. For example, most laws permit and legitimize extraction from Nature upon the simple requirement of conducting an environmental impact study and/or assessment. Western industrial law is used to legitimize destruction of Nature and human communities (Thomas Berry, The Great Work, 1999).

The growth of capitalism spreading to every part of our planet was facilitated by the legal recognition of corporations as artificial persons capable of holding rights; whereas life-giving species and components of the Earth, such as lakes, rivers, forests and mountains have been systematically denied them inherent rights to be and to flourish. Something must be done if we are not to leave our children a legacy of disaster.

The Sixth Mass Extinction and Ecosystem Collapse The industrial period of human domination of the Earth, especially over the last century, has resulted in the sixth mass extinction where the Earth is in the process of losing more than three-quarters of her species in a geologically extremely short interval. 

In addition, the challenges of climate change and social and economic inequity, further exacerbate the trend. This is a result of the radical breakdown in human principles of governance, where human law has been used to legitimize social and ecological destruction. 

The drive for profits leads to increasing consumption which is not only in excess of, but also undermines the biological systems of the Earth. Exploring human pressure on the planet and how it compares across 200 nations, data from the Global Footprint Network, an independent think tank, warns that if humankind continues to use Nature and produce waste at the current rate, “by the mid-2030s we will require the resources of two planets to meet our demands”.