Fig 1 The Whanganui River Gorge, New Zealand

Permission from Simon Dixon


The recognition that “other-than-human” entities have legal personality has always been recognised in forms of
customary law. Some jurisdictions, however, denied their existence in a natural-spiritual context but not in
other non-human contexts. Now some jurisdictions are evolving allowing for the concept of juristic personhood
to expand. The Romans introduced jus gentium which provided the conceptual basis of “public trusts” and of
“juristic persons”. The former (public trusts) held that the sea, the sea shore, the air and running water were
common to everyone. The latter (juristic personhood) which was initially limited to public bodies (i.e. trusts,
corporations, and clubs) has been expanded by society to include other ‘legal subjects’ with specific rights and
obligations. During the British Raj (1858-1947) Colonial Judges recognized ‘super-subjects’ had legal status.
Temples, idols, and deities were declared as “juristic persons” with the same legal rights as human beings.
Much more recently society began to recognise ‘infra-subjects’ as legal entities. Pachamama (Mother Earth)
has been recognized as a “juristic person” and various "rights of nature" have been incorporated into the
constitutions of several countries. Efforts are being made to have animals declared as legal persons, while in
New Zealand, India and Colombia rivers (and their associated ecosystems) have been recognized by legislators
and Judges as “juristic persons”. The consequences, benefits and drawbacks, of juristic personhood are
discussed with reference to Sacred Natural Sites as a platform for spiritual governance. Clearly further study is
required and possibly litigation and legislation for such an approach to become widely recognized and used as a
tool for conservation.


Most conservation initiatives aimed at the legal protection of the natural environment are
undertaken by homo sapiens acting as the plaintiff and beneficiary. This article represents a
“point-of-view shift” as under the aegis of juristic personhood the numina that inhabit most
Sacred Natural Sites (SNS) are granted standing as plaintiffs in the defence of their domain,
represented by a guardian or agent.

Many SNS are typically characterised as biodiverse habitats or refugia that have formed in
response to ritual protection in the context of animistic beliefs rather than a “conservation
ethic”. As far as many indigenous peoples and local communities are concerned the “spirits
of place” or numina that inhabit most SNS are “juristic persons”, in all but name, and they
regularly invoke the numina enabling them to engage in “spiritual governance” (Studley and
Awang 2016, Studley and Horsley Forthcoming in Verschuuren and Brown).

gifts and inheritances. and compliance with the laws of the state (de Vos 2006 Greenfield 1996). under the rubric of an animistic world-view. but one on which society has decided to recognise as a “subject of rights” and obligations (Sohm 1892 Shelton 2015). the receipt of legacies. Public trusts. When juristic personhood is used in the context of enspirited SNS (inhabited by a numina) the concept may be better understood with reference to the literature on “other- than-human personhood” (OTHP) (Hallowell 2002) and "legal experiences with animated entities" (Petrazycki 2011). the seeking of judicial relief. Hawaii.Historically. Juristic Personhood A legal or juristic person refers generally to an entity or legal subject that is not a human being. These “rights. and navigable waters and the lands beneath them. Public Trusts It would appear that the concept of public trusts (of common natural resources) which is well established in many countries is providing an important staging post on the road to legal personhood (Shelton 2015). After the publication of an influential law review article by Joseph Sax (1969) courts in the United States began to expand the doctrine of public trusts and apply it to other resources. however. duties and obligations” include: - standing so they can sue or be sued. are normally constituted only for the benefit of humankind and so a far more reaching measure is required to confer juristic personhood and direct rights on other-than-human entities. including wildlife and public lands (Wade v Kramer 1984). with an initial focus on fishing rights. conferring trusteeship or guardianship on the government. The ancient laws of jus gentium. the air and running water was common to everyone. which later developed into the “public trust” doctrine. It is that denial that is being reversed in the legislation and cases highlighted in this paper predicated on juristic personhood. however. Rhode Island and Alaska (Shelton 2015). Many common law courts have adopted and applied public trust law (Shelton 2015). the incurring of debt. access to the shore. The principle (of public trust) became the law in England which distinguished between private property which could be owned by individuals and certain common resources which the monarch held in inalienable trust for present and future generations. the ownership and disposal of property. entering into contracts. and/or an ecocentric “rights” approach under the aegis of a pan(en)theistic world-view (Berry 1988 McDermott 2012 Nash 1989 Zeleha 2008). . the shores of the sea. marrying. some legal systems have denied legal personhood to natural-spiritual entities. This included the constitutions of Pennsylvania. were formulated by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian (Sandars 1917) who held that the sea.

as a rights-holder. and no being that is not so capable is a person even though he be a man. Privy Council. He argued for conferring legal personality and rights on the environment because.Fig 2 An enspirited idol of Radha Fig 3 An idol of Khrishna and Fig 4 Bolivia enshrined Fig 5 Te Urewera . a person is any being whom the law regards as capable of “rights and duties”. Various attempts have been made since Roman times for according legal status to other- than-human persons.the Tuhoe Shyamsunderji (Krishna and Radha) was Radha being enspirited at a natural world's rights with homelands (NE of North Island. Mullick v Mullick 1925) contingent upon the enspiriting of an idol and Salmond’s definition of “person” (1913).g. In 1925 Colonial Judges in India conferred juristic personhood on temples. recognized as a "juristic person" in 1925 pran pratisha ceremony at Sri equal status for New Zealand) was declared a (Mullick v Mullick). juristic person in 2014 High Court Kanpur. India. Salmond defined “person” (1913) in the following way: “So far as legal theory is concerned. rivers and ecosystems. Any being that is so capable is a person. Bombay Sri Radha Madhava Mandir. trees. Natural persons is the term used to refer to human beings who have certain legal rights automatically upon birth which expand as a child becomes an adult. Enspiriting is required before the idol can legally become a “juristic person” Permission from Rrahul Yadav Permission from ISKCON Permission from F Kemp Permission from Maea Rurehei desiretree Recognition of other-than-human entities as juristic persons Roman law recognised both natural persons and persona ficta which were later known as "juristic persons" (Gierke1954). 'Should Trees Have Standing?'. whether a human being or not. Stone (1976) highlighted the absurdities of granting legal personality to corporations and ships but not animals. the natural object would: . UP. idols and deities (e. Pachamama in 2009. An idol (or a temple) does not develop into a juristic person until it is enspirited during a Pran Pratistha ceremony (Bharne and Krusche 2014 Elgood 2000 Mukherjea and Sen 2013).” In a seminal article.

. the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration. aquatic insects. Morton 1972) that environmental objects should have standing to sue in court because: Contemporary public concern for protecting nature's ecological equilibrium should lead to the conferral of standing upon environmental objects to sue for their own preservation. recognize the inalienable rights of ecosystems. the right to ecological balance. including: "the right to exist. for example. is the living symbol of all the life it sustains or nourishes —fish. deer. Recognising Mother Earth or Pachamama as a juristic person In 2008.. Stone’s comments echoed remarks made by Justice William O." On 21 May 2009 indigenous churches issued a joint declaration at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues recommending that the forum recognise Mother Earth as a legal subject (WCC 2009) Bolivia followed Ecuador’s example by similarly giving constitutional protection to natural ecosystems which were amended in 2010 (Legislative Assembly of Bolivia 2010).. established new “rights for nature” namely: “the right to life and to exist. its sound. Ecuador became the first country in the world to declare in its constitution that nature is a legal person. bear. Stone’s innovation was to propose that the interests of nature should be represented (in court) by a guardian and that the burden of proof should rest upon the party that has allegedly compromised the integrity of the ecosystem or organism. elk. The river as plaintiff speaks for the ecological unit of life that is part of it. the right to pure water and clean air.The river. and not merely to serve as a means to benefit 'us'. structure. Articles 10 and 71-74 of the Constitution (Ecuador National Assembly 2008). Douglas who argued in a landmark environmental law case (Sierra Club v. Given that it has been conferred with legal personality and standing it has the capacity as a plaintiff to sue or seek judicial relief and engage in all the duties and capacities of a juristic person. persist. who are dependent on it or who enjoy it for its sight. gives individuals the authority to petition on the behalf of ecosystems." Although the environment has “worth and dignity in its own right” this does not suggest it exists in a passive state. otter.. water ouzels."have a legally recognised worth and dignity in its own right. maintain and regenerate its vital cycles. the . functions and its processes in evolution. and all other animals. The amendments redefining the country's mineral deposits as "blessings". fisher. In the years since Stone’s and Douglas’s comments various innovations in law have allowed for the concept of juristic personhood to be expanded.. and requires the government to remedy violations of nature's rights. including man. or its life.

This case is different from the previous in that it was the government addressing the violation of the rights of nature. who were responsible for a road expansion project that dumped debris into the river. 2016) Efforts have also been made to secure a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth at the UN but these have not been forthcoming. India. or in other words. in the remote districts San Lorenzo and Eloy Alfaro. Australia. United Kingdom and the United States and to “Harmony with Nature” resolutions in the United Nations (2009. 2015.right to the effective and opportune restoration of life systems affected by direct or indirect human activities. The project was also done without the completion of an environmental impact assessment or consent of the local residents. as the local government has been slow to comply with the mandated reparations (Daly 2012) In March 2011 the government of Ecuador filed a case (República del Ecuador Asamblea Nacional. The constitutional changes made by Bolivia and Ecuador resulted in a “Pachamama movement” that has spread to sub-Saharan Africa. New Zealand. as military operation to destroy the machinery used for illegal mining was ordered and implemented (Daly 2012) . Comisión de la Biodiversidad y Recursos Naturales) against illegal gold mining operations in northern Ecuador. and the right for preservation of Mother Earth and any of its components with regards to toxic and radioactive waste generated by human activities”. the enforcement of the ruling has been lacking. It was also swiftly enforced. Canada. There is evidence that constitutional provisions are beginning to give rise to enforcement litigation based on the legal personality of nature. narrowing its width and thereby doubling its speed. which were argued to be polluting the nearby rivers. The proceedings also confirmed that the burden of proof to show there is no damage lies with the defendant. for the damage done to the river. The case was filed by two such residents. rather than property rights. The rights of nature were violated by the mining operations. The case was important because the court stated that the rights of nature would prevail over other constitutional rights if they were in conflict with each other. a declaration does not appear to be “about to appear or take place” or appear to be “approaching to date” (Weston and Bollier 2013). citing the violation of the Rights of Nature. In Ecuador there have been two cases: The first lawsuit (Wheeler c. Director de la Procuraduria General Del Estado de Loja) was filed against the local government near Rio Vilcabamba in March 2011. Furthermore they appointed an ombudsman to defend or represent Mother Earth. setting an important precedent. Nepal. Though the plaintiffs were granted a victory in court.

New Zealand – Fig 7 The Ganges River. Kumaon Region. Uttarakhand Uttarakhand State. a legal person with: “all the rights. tohu (signs and signals).Fig 6 The Whanganui River. and in the name of. tapu (sacredness). India Permission from Geoff Cloake Permission from Richard Haley Permission from ICIMOD Recognising ecosystems as juristic persons Although it was Stone and Douglas who laid the foundations for “ecosystems” to become juristic persons it was the New Zealand government that translated rhetoric into praxis. Te Urewera" and "to provide governance for Te Urewera". duties and liabilities of a legal person”. mauri (life-force). and rahui (temporary bans) Te Awa Tupua. obviating the need to show harm to a human being. Tuhoe spirituality is directly provided for in Board decision-making. Court. the area known by the local Tuhoe as Te Urewera. Te Urewera. Nanital. ture (societal guidelines). Personhood means that lawsuits to protect the land (Te Urewera) can be brought on behalf of the land itself. India State. powers. the Board may consider and give expression to tuhoetanga (Tuhoe identity and culture) and the Tuhoe concepts that underpin nurturance namely: mana (authority. Kumaon Region. when it introduced legislation that covered ecosystems. identity). and its 115 Fig 8 The Himalayan Ecosystem of India– declared a juristic person in 2017 tributaries declared as multiple juristic was declared as multiple juristic persons in persons in 2017 by the Uttarakhand High 2017 by the Uttarakhand High Court. The new legal entity is now administered by the Te Urewera Board which comprises joint Tuhoe and Crown membership who are empowered to file lawsuits on behalf of Te Urewera and to: "to act on behalf of. Nanital. New Zealand In 2014 New Zealand were the first nation on earth to give up formal ownership of a National Park (Te Urewera Act 2014) and declare. kaitiaki (spiritual guardians). tikanga (traditional custom). muru (social deterrent). New Zealand . India. whereby in performing its functions.

The Te Pou Tupua is ‘supported’ by a Te Karewao. The Te Pou Tupua enter into relationships with relevant agencies. The legislation established a new legal framework for the Whanganui River (or Te Awa Tupua) whereby: “Te Awa Tupua is a legal person and has all the rights. its resources and life in general and the hapu invoke (karakia) the kaitiaki for guidance in times of joy.New Zealand followed up by declaring that the Whanganui River was a legal person after 170 years of litigation. Their role is to: ‘act and speak on behalf of the Te Awa Tupua … and protect the health and wellbeing of the river’. local government and the iwi and hapu of the river. . other iwi with interests in the River and local authorities. and premonition in relation to matters affecting the Whanganui River. or advisory committee comprising representatives of Whanganui iwi. powers. guidance. duties and liabilities of a legal person” predicated on a set of overarching "intrinsic values. despair. Ganga and Yamuna Rivers. The legislation makes provision for two Te Pou Tupua or guardians appointed jointly from nominations made by iwi (Maori confederation of tribes) with interests in the Whanganui River and the Crown. are juristic persons with all the corresponding rights duties and liabilities of a living person” The court’s decision was necessary because both rivers are “losing their very existence” and both “are sacred and revered and presided over by goddesses” (“Ganga Maa” and “Yamuna”). India On the 20th March 2017 the High Court of Uttarakhand (Salim v State of Uttarakhand and Others 2017) declared that the: “Ganga and Yamuna Rivers and all their (115) tributaries and streams…. The court appointed 3 officials to act as legal custodians responsible for conserving and protecting the rivers and their tributaries and ordered a management board be established within three months. or uncertainty for the guidance and insight they can provide”. The House of Representatives passed the Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Bill (2017) at its third reading on 15 March 2017 (Scoop News 15/3/2017)." or Tupua te Kawa : Furthermore in a “statement of significance” (schedule 8) recognition is also given to the numina or kaitiaki (Jenkins et al 2016) that inhabit each of the 240 plus rapids (ripo) on the Whanganui River and are associated with a distinct hapu (sub-tribe): “The kaitiaki provide insight.

The Court also ordered the national government to exercise legal guardianship and representation of the rights of the river (through an institution designated by the President of the Republic). Atrato River. rivers. The state has been given 6 months to eradicate illegal mining and to begin to decontaminate the river (of mercury) and reforest areas affected by illegal mining (44. jungles. The judgment quotes repeatedly and extensively from “Secret Abode of Fireflies” (Singh 2009) which underlines the sacredness of mountains (as the abode of deities) and the sacredness of Indian trees and plants and emphasises the “rights for nature”. meadows. The court called on the state to protect and revive the river and its tributaries and the Choco Department. Sacred Natural Sites. This was in response to a submission from the African Biodiversity Network and the Gaia Foundation for “a call for legal recognition of SNS and territories and their customary governance systems” (ABN 2016). air. with all corresponding rights. CRIC undated). Hopefully the legislation will allow the Emberas to secure standing and protection for some of their jaikatuma or spirit mountains (JusticiayPas 2009) and defend their Sitios Sagrados Naturales or SNS (Organización Indígena de Antioquia (OIA) undated.Himalayan Ecosystems. a juristic person) and merited special constitutional protection (ABColombia 2017). together with the indigenous ethnic communities (mostly Emberas) that live in the Atrato River Basin in Chocó. legal entity/ legal person/juristic person/juridicial person/ moral person/artificial person having the status of a legal person. Colombia On the 2nd May 2017 it was publically announced in El Tiempo that the constitutional court of Colombia had declared that the Atrato River Basin was a "subject of rights" (i. in order to preserve and conserve them. India Expanding on their previous judgment (of 20/3/17). Africa The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights resolved in May 2017 to “protect Sacred Natural Sites and Territories” (ACHPR 2017). grasslands. Recognizing that animals are juristic persons . lakes.e. springs and waterfalls. dales. community participation and the importance of extending juristic personhood to the Himalayan ecosystem. the High Court of Uttarakhand re- examined a previous (failed) petition (Miglani v State of Uttarakhand and Others) and declared on 30/3/17 that: We. streams. rivulets. declare glaciers including Gangotri & Yamunotri. duties and liabilities of a living person. It appointed 6 government officials to act as persons in loco parentis of the geographic features in the State of Uttarakhand and permitted the co-option of seven local representatives. by invoking our parens patriae jurisdiction. In contrast to the earlier judgment the court recognised the role of other riparian states (under the aegis of an inter-state council). forests wetlands. They are also accorded the rights akin to fundamental rights/ legal rights.000ha).

On the basis of summa divisio (literally the biggest division) two categories are well established: legal properties and legal personhood. Animals do not (yet) fall within the category of legal personhood (Brels pers. The international "Great Ape Project" seeks to imbue non- human primates with attributes of legal personhood specifically: "protections of the right to life.During the Middle Ages in Europe it was widely accepted that animals could be held responsible for the commission of crimes (Sykes 2011). the freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Much more recently scholarly and activist attention has been devoted to questioning whether some or all living species should be recognized as legal persons. Notwithstanding Chief Justice Fraser’s comments the legal status of nonhuman animals globally is in a grey zone. so far. between "things" and "persons". The civil codes of these countries create more of a terminological precision rather than a real transformation of the legal status of the animal (Brels 2017). either physical (humans) or abstract (corporations). depending on the circumstances. comm. an animal might be able to sue through its litigation representatives to protect itself” The Chief Justice’s remarks may be seen due to the inadequacies of animal protection laws and an attempt to further develop and advance standing for other-than-human entities. they are increasingly recognised in a number of European countries as sentient beings rather than "things" (Brels 2017). . and protection from torture. 2/7/2017). However. to approve human rights for apes (Glendinning 2008) In August 2011 Chief Justice Catherine Fraser in her dissenting judgement during Reece and others v Edmonton City (2011) inquired if a female elephant might qualify for standing in her own right. Even though recognised as sentient beings animals remain subjected to the things (or common “goods”) legal regime." (GAP ud) Although among some indigenous people (the Ifugao Tribe in the Philippines) "Animals are attributed with legal personalities” and it is an “assault of a personal nature to maliciously kill an animal” (Paul 1986) Spain is the only country. She went on reason that:- “it arguably remains an open question whether the common law has now evolved to the point where.

The concept of “rights” is a construction from outside an indigenous animistic context (Solon undated) and Berry (1999) states that “other modes of non-human existence have no rights”. In order to resolve this conundrum rights of Mother Earth and rights of Nature have had to be expressed through ‘socio-cultural practices’ rather than legal terms and Earth Jurisprudence has by necessity been predicated under the aegis of a “communion of subjects” (Burdon 2011). The numina of a SNS in restriction). Qinghai grief and awareness. com 3/3/2017) Most enspirited SNS are protected by people who are often described as animists. The disadvantage is that the ecocentric “rights” approach does not resonate well with the world-view of the local people who protect most enspirited SNS. The advantage of conflating both approaches is that it addresses two discrete communities both indigenous animistic people and the advocates of ecocentrism (Barouskaya 2011).tvwild. invocation to a local (guardian) linked to tohu (signs) tapu (spiritual personality to animals North Island. New Zealand. The call from the African Biodiversity Network and the Gaia Foundation (ABN 2016) was predicated on ecocentric “rights” under the aegis of a pan(en)theistic worldview rather than the animistic worldview that is common among most indigenous people who protect SNS (Studley 2014) and the resolution was not predicated on juristic personhood for SNS and it appears to depend more on human custodians than spiritual ones and on customary but anthropocentric governance (Lambert pers. Te Whānau a engaging in an spiritual connection as an important kaitiaki Philippines attribute legal Apanui. This. Ngāti maru. Maori's engage in ritual liturgies Donggo Village. Earth Jurisprudence. . should not be confused with “new animism” (Harvey 2006) which only exhibits partial resonance with the worldview of most of the local people who protect SNS. The emphasis of “new animism” is on knowing how to behave appropriately with other-than- human persons but who “are only ‘alive’ when participating in a relationship but not as a result of a spirit taking up residence” (Whitehead 2013). however. Permission from Rick St John Photo credit Auckland Museum Image taken by Awang Image taken by The Graf Boys - 2017 www.] Discussion Much of the recent legislation addressing the legal status of natural entities has been formulated under the aegis of juristic personhood or ecocentric approaches under the aegis of “rights of nature”. person.Fig 9 The Ifugao tribe who live Fig 12 The New Zealand ruru (Ninox near Luzon in the Cordillera novaeseelandiae) provides a rich source of Fig 10 A Mauri Kohata – from Te Fig 11 Tibetans Administrative Region of the symbolism for the Māori borne out of a deeply The conflation of approaches is illustrated in the resolution passed in favour of protecting African SNS (ACHPR 2017). Raukūmara Range. (karakia) to enspirit mauri Province. It is important not to confuse the two especially when both are used in the context of the same legislation (Legislative Assembly of Bolivia 2010. The former appears to be mostly predicated on an animistic worldview and the latter mostly on a Gaian pan(en)theistic worldview. China in order stones (of the forest. to perpetuate their legal thing) and to enable mana relationship with the (spiritual power) to flow. Earth Law. and as a messenger of forewarning. Miglani v State of Uttarakhand and Others 2017). This contrasts with most animistic societies where enspirited entities and landscapes are inhabited by numina who remain live .

The numina do not differ from juristic persons in terms of their “duties and capacities” but in addition they determine what constitutes “good” and “bad” behavior within a SNS. As a result it would require transnational regional cooperation and enforcement would require several countries working together. The behavioral expectations of numina in their role as custodians of SNS might be viewed as harmful in terms of. Challenges arise however in terms of standing (as plaintiffs) for larger natural entities such as the Great Barrier Reef or the Mekong River.g.and active for at least a year although if they are ignored the spirits eventually become displaced (Ramble 2008). The protection of SNS (and their flora and fauna) by most IP’s is not predicated on a conservation ethic but on ritual compliance enjoined by the numina that inhabits the SNS. Although juristic persons have standing they are also perpetual minors and require guardians to represent their interests (especially in court). In a Tibetan context although some behavior in non-negotiable (e.g. especially in the context on SW China. preventing tourist development and gender relations. Juristic personhood appears to offer an alternative in order to protect animal species. The Mekong presents different problems because it crosses multiple borders and jurisdictions. for example. humans climbing on sacred snow mountains) most other behavior can be negotiated under the aegis of contractual reciprocity and appeasement. Most enspirited SNS.g. Ninglang County). for example. by court order. In the context of Tibetan SNS the most suitable guardians would be the hereditary village leader and/or a divination master (in order to establish the wishes and demands of the numina). China and India (Clark 2011). Dechin County). The plaintiff could argue that by way of reparation the main contributors participate in more carbon offsetting programmes and lower their CO2 emissions.g.Ton Ton knoll near Shangrila City). 1/7/2017). typically average 250ha (Studley 2014) and are protected by a small group of local people.USA. The Great Barrier Reef is being degraded as a result of global warming (Marshall and Johnson 2007) but even if it is enspirited and a guardian can be appointed who can be sued – possibly the countries that produce most CO2 . Retribution usually only occurs because the human party fails to honor or appease the numina prior to an intervention (e. Limited tourist development within SNS is often negotiable (e. com. Conclusions . may enspirit another SNS with a female numina (e. There are strict laws concerning treatment of cattle and pigs in Switzerland. the cable car on Lion Mountain. If a dispute did occur courts are able to appoint. The metal walkway above the Minyong Glacier. inhabited by a male numina. Much of the animal rights legislation is predicated on human-defined concepts – in loco parentis – and appears at times to be contradictory. but the conundrum is that at the end of the day these well-treated animals are slaughtered for our benefit (Sochaczewski pers. a guardian ad litum for the duration of the legal action or a state guardian (parens patriae) on a longer term basis. Gender relations can be maintained by Tibetan women who although banned from entering a SNS.

The former focuses on gnostic mystic advancement in order to merge with the world soul. Most Sacred Natural Sites are typically enspirited by a unique geospecific spirit with a unique personhood predicated on a tradition that should not be confused with panentheism or with monistic pantheism (Harrison 2004). In other words super/infra subjects appear to be eligible for juristic personhood only after they have been enspirited on a regular basis. be easier for indigenous people or knowledge-brokers (Studley 2007) to co- opt the alien legal language of juristic personhood but infuse it with indigenous meaning (Cajete 2000). Morton 1972. Although the semantics are different – most of the indigenous people who live closest to most SNS accept other-than human personhood. Both jurists and legal anthropologists (Malinowski 1926) have suggested alternatives to juristic personhood such as “legal relationships with animated entities” (Petrazycki 2011) and that juristic entities should be locally defined rather than by the court or government (Bohannan 1957) or on the basis of western law (Deva 2005 Sawmveli 2016) or by Gaian pan(en)theists (Berry 1996. Reece v Edmonton City 2011) the judges in . These relationships are predicated on contractual reciprocity between local people and their numina who provides protection and blessing providing they are honoured and appeased and empowered to exercise spiritual governance over their SNS (Studley 2014). there are also dangers of trying to apply concepts predicated on “western” jurisprudence (Deva 2005 Sawmveli 2016) and Gaian pan(en)theism in the context of indigenous people and enspirited places (Read 2003). Hou 2016). Consequently it has gained currency in the conservation literature (Verschuuren 2016 Forthcoming) hopefully leading to its acceptance as a governance type by IUCN/ICCA. did not exist in the conservation lexicon until recently but it was observable as a behavioural practice under the aegis of spiritual agency in enspirited landscapes (i. As a result of western “juridicalization” it would appear that other-than-human persons (both super-subjects and infra-subjects) have to be “integrated into the circle of legal subjects in order to survive” (Stavru 2016). It is important to recognise that. It may. SNS) so it was co-opted and infused with indigenous meaning (Studley & Awang 2016. in most of the recent cases where juristic personhood has been applied to legal subjects the subjects are typically inhabited by a numina. The latter does not recognise deities who are personal and anthropogenic and the approach robs “particular life forms of their own measure of significance and agency” (Plumwood 1993) and “the particularity of place and ecosystem and the diversity of life” (Northcott 1996).e. experience culturally specific legal relationships with enspirited entities. The term “spiritual governance”. for example. Lovelock 1979). Currently many SNS in the homelands of indigenous people are seemingly rendered “invisible” or discursively excluded (Studley and Awang 2016) because they are owned and governed by other-than-human persons. By recognizing enspirited SNS as juristic persons with standing hopefully the “scales will fall from the eyes” of the conservation community leading to their recognition by IUCN/ICCA as a governance sub-type under the aegis of a spiritual governance type (Verschuuren 2016) It appears perverse that although dissenting Justices could only inquire about standing for natural entities (Sierra Club v. however. There are Gaian ‘pan(en)theists’ that claim that all the earth is 'animated' (Harding 2006) and anthropologists (Hallowell 2002) who claim that only select subjects become enspirited. Harding 2007.Although on the face of it the concept of juristic personhood has potential for ensuring the protection of SNS in their totality.

almost it would seem on a whim” (Naffine 2009) and operated on the assumption that an enspirited idol certainly had standing." The Privy Council employed a line of reasoning that mirrors a key element of the argument in favor of legal standing for most OTHP. Such 'rights’ are now variously termed Earth jurisprudence. an animistic ritual (and sometimes liturgical) process whereby a spirit or numina is “called down” or invoked by animistic humankind and invited to inhabit a biophysical entity (mountain.ecologicalcitizen. It recognizes that humans have responsibility towards the ecosphere and moral sentiments that are increasingly expressed in the language of rights.Mullick v Mullick in 1925 were able to employ “the great legal freedom to personify. As Chief Justice Fraser asserted. forest. A case such as Reece v Edmonton City (2011) suggests that it is already within the power of the judiciary to consider these issues. By endorsing the idol's legal personhood. and rocks are typically inhabited by spirits or numina (Sponsel 2007) Ecocentrism . Although the judiciary appears to have the legal tools at their disposal there are clearly dangers in granting juristic personhood within an already faulted legal and institutional framework (Jonas pers. Guardian ad litum. writing that "the idol is not otherwise represented in the proceedings. http://www. 29/6/2017). Enspiriting. the Privy Council was able to consider its interests. Clearly more research is required in order to address legal systems that do not appear to be fit for purpose and under the aegis of legal pluralism and a sui generis framework to identify legal systems predicated on ethno- jurisprudence and customary law (Zion 1988) Glossary Animism – is the most ancient. It appears that the judiciary already has at its disposal the legal tools necessary to accommodate standing for both animals and SNS and judges need only to make use of them (Totten 2015).Ecocentrism is a philosophy or perspective that places intrinsic value on all living organisms and their natural environment. rock. forests. geographically widespread and diverse of all belief systems adhered to by 300 million indigenous people. regardless of their perceived usefulness or importance to human beings. rights of nature.(guardian appointed by a court) is someone appointed by the court to represent a client for the duration of a particular legal action . Some scholars writing on the topic of legal standing for nonhuman entities have suggested that extensive legislative change would be necessary to recognize these entities' legal standing (W 2000). earth law and wild law. As the directly affected parties deserve the courts' consideration of their interests. though the result might conceivably vitally affect its interest" and concluded that it "would be in the interests of all concerned that the idol should appear by a disinterested next friend appointed by the Court. and may also require the courts to appoint appropriate legal representatives to argue their case for them (Totten 2015).php O'Riordan (1981) has suggested that Gaia has also emerged as a popular symbol of ecocentrism primarily because it has come to be associated with the belief that humankind is not a dominant species and human consciousness is not the only means through which nature should be judged and unusual cases such as Reece offer a fertile ground for the growth of law in our changing society. It is predicated on the assumption that biophysical entities such as mountains. idol) which becomes enspirited permanently providing the spirit is honored and appeased on a regular basis.

is a term used by Stavru (2016) to describe deities. duties.abcolombia. Panentheism is part of a gnostic mystic tradition that is informed by Plato. among some scientists and within the environmental movement (McDermott 2012 Zaleha 2008). Wild Law (Cullinan 2002). rivers) Legal subject – is an entity capable of holding rights. and Paul Sochaczewski References ABColombia (2017) Colombian Constitutional Court Sets a Global Precedent [online] available from <http://www. Earth Law (Earth Law Centre undated). there is a separate and greater divine reality outside the material world (Mercadante 2014). Whole-Earth Consciousness (Hastings 2016) and Sacred Earth Economics (Korten 2013) although Berry emphasized the physical universe rather than the Earth. idol) Pantheism – (all is “God”) has been referred to as “a form of monism” (Mercadante 2014) and “sexed-up atheism” (Dawkins 2016) where all of reality is one substance (call it “God” or Nature or the Universe) and there are no personal or anthropomorphic God.asp?subid=700&mainid=23> [10 June 2017] . It spring.Sabine Brels. and other spiritual and metaphysical enties. forest. Peter Holmsley. The World Pantheist Movement sponsors nature conservation (Harrison 2004 Taylor 2008) Panentheism – (all is IN God) is predicated on an intrinsic connection between all living things and the physical universe which accord with natural and capacities and includes both juristic and natural persons numina – is a “spirit of place” or genius loci that is present within an object or place (mountain. Joseph Lambert. forests. Harry Jonas. parens patriae – (parents of the nation) is a public policy power of the state to intervene as legal guardian of an entity in need of protection persona ficta – (artificial person) is another term for juristic person jus gentium – (law of the nations) in Roman law jus gentium referred to the rules and laws that were common in the nations within the Roman Empire super-subject . spirits. loco parentis – (in place of a parent) refers to the legal requirement of a person (or persons) to take on the responsibilities of a parent for another entity infra-subject – is a term used by Stavru (2016) to describe biophysical entities (mountains. Berry’s mystic panentheism inspired movements for Earth Jurisprudence (Burdon 2014). It has become popular in Hollywood. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (2015) and Thomas Berry (1988) and the evolutionary “omega point” (de Chardin 2015 218) is achieved when all things are united or merged under the aegis of the world soul or anima mundi (Timaeus 34b10-36d7 cited in Zeyl 2000). Acknowledgements The author would like to thank the following for their comments and contributions:.

(2000) Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence. P. 3. (2011) Anthropocentrism and Ecocentrism: Finding Balance for Environmental Protection Purposes. and Krusche. P. (2012) ‘The Ecuadorian Exemplar: The First Ever Vindications of Constitutional Rights of Nature’.achpr. Published for the International African Institute by Oxford University Press. Santa Fe New Mexico: Clear Light Publishers de Chardin. (1996) Every Being Has Rights | Schumacher Center For New Economics Berry. Review of European Community & International Environmental Law 21 (1). Bohannan. (2011) ‘Which Nations Are Most Responsible for Climate Change? Guardian [online] available from <https://www. (2014) Earth Jurisprudence: Private Property and the Environment vol. T.D.> [11 July 2017] ACHPR African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (2017) Final Communiqué of the 60th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights [online] available from <http://www. R. (2016) The God Delusion Random> [7 July 2017]> [7 July 2017] CRIC Consejo Regional Indígena Del Cauca (undated) Universidad Autónoma Indígena Intercultural UAII | . (1957) Judgement and Justice among the Tiv. held 16 September 2011 at Griffith University. (2017) The Evolution of the Legal Status of Animals: From Things to Sentient Beings | [online] available from <http://www. (2002) Wild Law> [5 July 2017] Constitutional Court of Bolivia (2010) Peoples Agreement: Building the People's World Movement for Mother Earth [online] available from <http://peoplesagreement. Brels. Ceremony. Body Sense. in ‘Earth Jurisprudence: Building Theory and Practice’. S. Brisbane Berry.ABN African Biodiversity Network (2016) Call to African Commission [online] available from <http://africanbiodiversity. T. K. I. (2011) Exploring Wild Law: The Philosophy of Earth Jurisprudence [online] Wakefield> [11 July 2017] Barouskaya. I. (2015) The Phenomenon of Man Lulu. (2014) Rediscovering the Hindu Temple: The Sacred Architecture and Urbanism of India Cambridge Scholars Publishing. P. Cajete. 1 Bharne. E.CRIC [online] available from < uaii/> [10 June 2017] Cullinan.theguardian. . Deva. Routledge. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books 1 (988). (2005) Sociology of Law/Edited by Indra Deva Oxford University Press. Daly. 63–66 Dawkins. Burdon. C. G. Clark.cric-colombia.globalanimalnetwork.T. V. P. (1988) ‘The Dream of the Earth’.

P. J.Earth Law Centre (undated) What Is Earth Law [online] available from <https://www. available from <http://jyp. L. (2006) Animate Earth: Science. Hallowell. (1926) Crime and Custom in Savage Society 210.A. Intuition. and World View’. S. (2004) Elements of Pantheism Llumina Press. (2012) Beyond Reason: Evolving Consciousness Balboa Press. Australia 774–801 McDermott. GAP Great Apes Project (undated) GAP Project [online] available from <http://www.. Behavior.I. N. W.earthlawcenter. in Asian Sacred Natural Sites: Philosophy and Practice in Protected Areas and Conservation. L.pdf> [7 April 2017] Korten. (2008) ‘Spanish Parliament Approves “Human Rights” for Apes’. JuduciayPas (2009) Indigenous Emberá Communities Resist Invasion by Multinational Mining Corporation in the Bajo Atrato. (2013) Sacred D. by Verschuuren. B.E. (2014) Belief without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but Not Religious Oxford University Press. ed. O. and Gaia. Tucker.E.theguardian. and Teilhard de Chardin: Seeds for a 21 St Century Sacramental Creation Spirituality and Ecological Ethics Boston University.J.F. and Grim. von (1954) Das deutsche Genossenschaftsrecht [online] Graz. Readings in Indigenous Religions 22. New York: Columbia University Press Hou. Ox-Ford University atrato-de-la-mineria-ilegal-83708> [7 July 2017] Elgood. and Johnson. Colombia. (1996) The Return of Cultural Treasures Cambridge University Press. (2002) ‘Ojibwa Ontology. 286–296 Jenkins. (2016) ‘Ritual and Cultural Revival at Tuvan Sacred Natural Sites Supports Indigenous Governance and Conservation of Nature in China’.com/IMG/pdf/Muriel_English_summary.animalwelfare> [7 July 2017] Greenfield. (1979) ‘A New Look at Life on Earth’.> [7 July 2017] Gierke. G. 17–49 Harding. (2007) ‘The Great Barrier Reef and Climate Change: Vulnerability and Management Implications’.Justicia - [online] available from <http://www. J. (2000) Hinduism and the Religious Arts A&C Black. B.. Hastings. and Furuta. Routledge. J.A. Oxford Malinowski. (2015) Whole-Earth Consciousness in Maximus the Confessor. P. M. a New Economy and the 21st Century University . Marshall. Mercadante. S.eltiempo. J.projetogap.megadatesystem. . Nicholas of Cusa. The Guardian [online] available from <https://www. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Australian Greenhouse Office. (2016) Routledge Handbook of Religion and Ecology Routledge. Y.L.Cortes .David Korten Lovelock.> [11 July 2017] El Tiempo (2017) Corte Constitucional Ordena Proteger Al Río Atrato de La Minería Ilegal . Harvey. A. Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef. Rowman & Littlefield. (2006) Animism: Respecting the Living World. P. Akademische Druck-u. Chelsea Green Publishing Harrison.

arcgis. London: Stevens and Haynes Sandars. Cambridge University Press. T.fao. (2009) Law’s Meaning of Life: Philosophy. D. Scoop Politics [online] available from <http://www.htm> [9 June 2017] Shelton. (2013) The Hindu Law of Religious and Charitable Trust.html?appid=21142177e0d448d59a9dc7de4c5d2c36> [7 July 2017] Paul. (1917) The Institutes of Justinian The Lawbook Exchange. (2003) Haunted Earth UNSW Salmond.W.(undated) Sitios Sagrados Naturales (SNS) [online] available from <http://www. available from <http://canlii. J.La Revue Électronique En Sciences de L’environnement [online] (Hors-série 22).html> [15 February 2017] Salim v State of Utarakhand (2017) Salim v State of Utarakhand and Others (2017) Writ Petition No. O’Riordan. (2012) Law Religion and Gender a Study of Womens Rights in Mizoram PhD. Eastern Law> [29 May 2017] . (2015) ‘Nature as a Legal Person’.Miglani v State of Uttarakhand (2017) Miglani v State of Uttarakhand (2017) Writ Petition (PIL) No. Michigan Law Review 68 (3). Hyderabad: University of Hyderabad. Religion. V. Reece v. available from <https://vertigo. Nanital [online] available from <https://drive. (1981) Environmentalism Pion. 10. A. Oxford University Press Plumwood. B.C. P.revues.georgetown. VertigO .> Mullick v Mullick (1925) Pramatha Nath Mullick vs Pradyumna Kumar Mullick (1925) 27 BOMLR 1064 Bombay High Court . Edmonton City (2011) Reece v. (2008) The Navel of the Demoness: Tibetan Buddhism and Civil Religion in Highland Nepal. P. Edmonton City (2011) ABCA 238 [online] 1003–0264–AC. 210 of 2017(M/S) Uttarakhand High Court.C.> Republic of Ecuador (2011) The constitution of the Republic of Ecuador [online] available from <http://pdba. J. Ramble. [online] available from <> [7 July 2017] Darwin and the Legal Person Bloomsbury Publishing.scoop. III. C. 471–566 Scoop News (2017) ‘Te Awa Tupua Passes in to Law’. (1996) The Environment and Christian Ethics vol. Nanital [online] available from N. (1913) Juriprudence.140 of 2015 Uttarakhand High Court. (1970) ‘The Public Trust Doctrine in Natural Resource Law: Effective Judicial Intervention’. and Sen. (1986) Some Origins of Laws Legal Codes Regarding Animals.S. (2011) Law and Morality Transaction Publishers.K.Privy Council [online] available from <https://indiankanoon. T. Sawmveli. (2002) Feminism and the Mastery of Nature Routledge. Ltd. OIA Organización Indígena de Antioquia .do?recordID=US19870119841> [7 July 2017] Petrazycki. Sax.

K. R. 271–285 Studley.html> Singh. 146–166 Stone. 450–501 Studley. J.Sierra Club v Morton (1972) Sierra Club v Morton (1972) 405 US 727 US Supreme Court [online] available from <https://supreme.R. P. ed.) (Forthcoming) Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Nature). T. N. J. 1 United Nations General Assembly (2016) Harmony with Nature A/71/266. S. Verschuuren.asp? symbol=A/RES/70/208> [11 June 2017] United Nations General Assembly (2009) United Nations Document A/RES/ 64/196 .E . in Asian Sacred Natural Sites: Philosophy and Practice in Protected Areas and Conservation. Sohm. (2016) ‘Creating New Discursive Terrain for the Custodians of the Tibetan Spiritscapes of North West Yunnan’. 6. WJ Legal Stud. (2016) Asian Sacred Natural Sites: Philosophy and Practice in Protected Areas and Conservation Routledge. Southern California Law Review 45. Routledge.Harmony with Nature. (2010) ‘Human Drama. (2014) gzhi bdag: Custodians of the Tibetan Spiritscape: A Bio-Cultural Audit of Sacred Natural Sites in NW Yunnan (with Special Reference to the Yubeng Valley) CERS Hong Kong Studley. J. (2016) ‘Rights of Nature – Is There a Place for Them in the Legal Theory and Practice? Sociological Problems 1–2. by Verschuuren. and Furuta. Animal Trials: What the Medieval Animal Trials Can Teach Us About Justice for Animals’. (eds. (Forthcoming) ‘Spiritual Governance: A Behavioural Practice and Expression of Sui Generis Norms in Indigenous Sacred Natural Sites with Implications for Conservation and Protected Areas. and Furuta. B. and Awang. (1892) The Institutes of Roman Law Рипол Классик. B. and Brown.asp?symbol=A/71/266> United Nations General Assembly (2015) United Nations Official Document A/RES/70/208 Harmony with Nature. L. ed. B. and Brown. United Nations. N. (1999) ‘Standing for Animals (with Notes on Animal Rights)’.> [11 June 2017] Verschuuren. Studley. J. C.un. available from < laws/document/00DBHOH_BILL68939_1/te-awa-tupua-whanganui-river-claims-settlement-bill> [7 July 2017]> [9 July 2017] Sponsel. S. available from <http://www. S.) (2009) The Secret Abode of Fireflies: Loving and Losing Spaces of Nature in the City Youthreach. available from <http://www.un. Ucla L. (ed. 47. N. and Horsley. . 273 The New Zealand Parliament Counsel Office (2016) Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Bill [online] 129–1. 1333 Sykes. (2007) Hearing a Different Drummer: A New Paradigm for ‘keepers of the Forest’ IIED.justia. J. Animal L. (1972) ‘Should Trees Have Standing–Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects’.D. by Verschuuren. (2007) Religion Nature and Environmentalism. United Nations. available from <http://undocs. Routledge Sunstein. (2015) ‘Should Elephants Have Standing’. B. (undated) The Rights of Mother Earth – Systemic Alternatives [online] available from <https://systemicalternatives.’ in Cultural and Spiritual Significance of Nature). Solon. NIEHS Stavru.

H. Human Rights. Zion. 121–50 .com/case/wade-v-kramer-9> [7 July 2017] Weston. Hackett Publishing. (2008) ‘“The Only Paradise We Ever Need”: An Investigation into Pantheism’s Sacred Geography in the Writings of Edward Abbey’.it/sites/st07/files/allegatiparagrafo/06-10-2016/pvl101q-unit1. Ct. available from <https://www. B. and Woodman.W. 9. G. App.pdf> Wade v Kramer (1984) Wade v Kramer (1984) 121 Ill.oikoumene. in Indigenous Law and the State. ed. (2013) Religious Statues and Personhood: Testing the Role of Materiality A&C Black. Whitehead. by Morse. (2006) The Law of Persons. B. and Bollier. and the Law of the Commons Cambridge University Press. J. Dordrecht: Foris. V. B. D. Vos. D. Thomas Berry.D. University of Florida) Zeyl. UNISA. WCC World Council of Churches (2009) Joint Declaration of Indigenous Churches: Eighth Period of Sessions of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues [online] available from <https://www.disag. spirituality/just-and-inclusive-communities/indigenous-people/joint-declaration-of-indigenous-churches-at-un- forum> [7 July 2017] Zaleha. (2013) Green Governance: Ecological Survival.3d 377 (Ill. (1988) ‘Searching for Indian Common Law’.J. and Matthew Fox. 1984) | California Eastern District Court [online] available from <https://casetext. and a Preliminary Survey of Signs of Emerging Pantheism in American Culture’ (MA Thesis. (2000) Timaeus vol.