Rights of Nature, Legal Personality, and Indigenous Philosophies

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This article investigates the relationship between legal personality for nature and Indigenous philosophies by comparing two cases: the Ecuadorian Constitution of 2008 and the 2014 Te Urewera Act of Aotearoa, New Zealand. Through these case studies the article considers the nature of Indigenous relations with the concept of rights of nature, arguing that this relation is primarily strategic, not genealogical. The article engages with the concept of legal personality and shows that it is not a direct translation of Indigenous conceptions, but rather a potential straitjacket for Indigenous emancipatory politics. The radical character of Indigenous ontologies is not fully reflected in the concept of legal personality. Furthermore, the way in which rights are granted to the natural environment is an important part of the effect that such rights might have on Indigenous communities. Despite some affinities between rights of the environment and Indigenous philosophies, overstating the connection might constrain the radical political and legal implications of Indigenous thought.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-453
Number of pages25
JournalTransnational Environmental Law
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • rights of nautre
  • te urewera
  • legal personality
  • aotearoa new zealand
  • indigenous law
  • critical jurisprudence


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