In Aruba, minister of nature initiates constitutional amendment to enshrine 'rights of nature' and human right to clean environment

By Katie Surma, 10 May 2023
Flag of Aruba (photo credit: DF7ZS via pixabay)
Flag of Aruba (photo credit: DF7ZS via pixabay)
Lawmakers have taken the first steps toward amending the constitution of the Caribbean island Aruba to include a recognition that nature possesses inherent legal rights like the right to exist and regenerate. [...] The proposed amendment, which has not yet been publicly released, must clear a series of procedural hurdles and then be approved by two-thirds, or at least 14 members, of Aruba’s Parliament. The government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands would then have to sign off on the measure: While Aruba became a country in 1986 and is mostly self-governing, it has been part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands since 1815. Aruba’s minister of nature, Ursell Arends, said the push for the amendment sprang from concerns about the state of the country’s ecosystems. [...] While the idyllic landscape has made Aruba a sought-after tourist destination, environmental degradation from activities on and well beyond the island threaten those fragile ecosystems. [...] The proposed amendment also includes recognition of the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. The combination of recognizing and enforcing the rights of nature and the human right to a healthy environment underscores the interdependence between the wellbeing of humans and nature, Arends said. [...] The path toward the constitutional amendment began in 2017, when Arends incorporated the rights of nature into the platform of his left-leaning RAIZ political party. In 2021, the idea made its way into the platform of the newly formed coalition government as well. Then, last month, Arends hosted an Earth Day gathering of government officials, civil society and international organizations, including leaders of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and the U.S.-based Earth Law Center, to kick off the legal process for amending Aruba’s constitution. The day before the event, Arends office sent a draft amendment to the country’s Department of Legislation and Legal Affairs. The draft will circulate between that department, Arends’ office and the country’s Advisory Council before being sent to the Parliament for a vote. Arends expects that process to conclude by the end of the year and said he was confident that the amendment will receive the needed two-thirds support. If that process is successfully completed, it will be the first time Aruba has amended its constitution since the document went into effect in 1986.
Read the full article here: Inside Climate News


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