New Zealand Grants Legal Personhood Rights – To a River

International   |   Wesley J. Smith   |   Sep 10, 2012   |   10:07AM   |   Wellington, New Zealand

I keep warning that this “nature rights” movement is beginning to bite, and people keep rolling their eyes. But New Zealand just granted rights to a river.

From the New Zealand Herald story:

Meet the Whanganui. You might call it a river, but in the eyes of the law, it has the standings of a person.

In a landmark case for the Rights of Nature, officials in New Zealand recently granted the Whanganui, the nation’s third-longest river, with legal personhood “in the same way a company is, which will give it rights and interests”. The decision follows a long court battle for the river’s personhood initiated by the Whanganui River iwi, an indigenous community with strong cultural ties to the waterway. Under the settlement, the river is regarded as a protected entity, under an arrangement in which representatives from both the iwi and the national government will serve as legal custodians towards the Whanganui’s best interests.

A corporation and other juridical entities have rights because they are human associations. It is the human aspect that matters.

A river is a waterway. It doesn’t have “best interests.” It is not a rights bearing being because it is isn’t a “being” at all. This is really a recognition of nature religion into law.

If the river needed protecting, protect it by creating conservation and environmental standards. Nature rights is very subversive to human freedom and exceptionalism. People are playing with very dangerous and anti-human concepts here and they think they are being progressive. Well, I guess politically, they are.

CLICK LIKE IF YOU’RE PRO-LIFE! Note: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture. He writes at his blog, Secondhand Smoke.