Wild Law

EnAct has played a key role in the development of a new legal philosophy and approach to governance called “Earth Jurisprudence”. Our pioneering role in this field led us to being instructed by Nobel peace prize winner Professor Wangari Mathai’s Green Belt movement to advise on how this approach could be incorporated into the draft Kenyan constitution. In October 2008, Ecuador became the first country to adopt a constitution that recognises rights for Nature as proposed in Wild Law.

Earth jurisprudence refers to the philosophy of law and human governance that is based on the belief that human societies should regulate themselves as members of a wider Earth community. This would require the development of laws and policies that ensure that people act in a way that is consistent with the fundamental “laws” or principles of Nature that govern how the universe functions (“the Great Jurisprudence”). Earth Jurisprudence requires the expansion of our understanding of governance and democracy to embrace the whole Earth Community and not just humans. It is concerned with maintaining and strengthening relations between all members of the Earth Community and not just between human beings.

The need for a new jurisprudence was first identified by Thomas Berry (see www.thomasberry.org). His work has inspired thousands of people around the planet who believe in a worldview that takes account of the interests of the whole Earth instead of only those of human. The dominant legal philosophies and laws both reflect and perpetuate the prevailing worldview that the Earth is merely a collection of 'resources' or objects which human beings are entitled to exploit for their exclusive benefit. A new approach is essential if global human society is to achieve the radical shift in beliefs and attitudes that will be necessary to save the planet from ecological disaster. The challenge is to develop a coherent system of values and principles based on lessons from traditional and indigenous cultures and from Nature itself, which can inform the development of more appropriate laws and practices.

The feasibility of developing this jurisprudence was discussed at a meeting attended by Berry in April 2001. In 2002 Cormac Cullinan’s book Wild Law was published which explored the concept of Earth Jurisprudence and introduced the related concepts of “Great Jurisprudence” and “wild law”. These ideas are rapidly gaining acceptance throughout the world.

Wild law in action
Enact International is part of a campaign to encourage the United Nations to implement a Universal Declaration of Planetary Rights. To read more about the campaign,
visit treeshaverightstoo.com.

The UK Environmental Law Association has held annual conferences on Wild Law since 2005. The first Earth Jurisprudence Centre was established in September 2006 in Florida as a joint initiative of the Catholic Universities of Barry and St Thomas. (see www.earthjuris.org) and this approach is now taught in several African countries.


WILD LAW: A Manifesto for Earth Justice

By Cormac Cullinan, with a Foreword by Thomas Berry

We are rapidly destroying our only habitat, Earth. It is becoming clear that many of the treaties, laws and policies concluded in recent years have failed to slow down, let alone halt or reverse, this process. Cormac Cullinan shows that the survival of the community of life on Earth (including humans) requires us to alter fundamentally our understanding of the nature and purpose of law and governance, rather than merely changing laws. In describing what this new ‘Earth governance’ and ‘Earth jurisprudence’ might look like, he also gives practical guidance on how to begin moving towards it.

Wild Law fuses politics, legal theory, quantum physics and ancient wisdom into a fascinating and eminently readable story. It is an inspiring and stimulating book for anyone who cares about Earth and is concerned about the direction in which the human species is moving.

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