Proposal for a Universal Charter for Animal, Species and Ecosystem Rights

 Recognising the excellent work undertaken over recent decades by many individuals­—particularly young people—NGOs, and governments to ensure that humanity upholds its duty as guardian and trustee of the natural world for future generations and all inhabitants of the planet, and not least so as to:

  • ensure compassion, mercy and humane treatment of and towards animals;
  • save living species from extinction;
  • preserve ecosystems;
  • stop the degradation of the environment, and
  • to help stop climate change;

and, in order to continue this vital work, and emphasise its importance

we, the undersigned, humbly propose that an international legal charter of rights be developed,

  • that enshrines the general principle that all animals and all sentient natural beings may not be subjected to cruelty or wanton mistreatment by humans or their machines or artificial intelligence (as was nobly proposed in detail by the Committee for the Convention for the Protection of Animals, April 4th 1988 by Bill Clark, Professor David Favre and Stanley Johnson, but taking into consideration changes in circumstances and lessons learnt since then);
  • that establishes that every natural species of living creature has an inherent right to exist and may not be wiped out or made extinct qua species by human beings, or their machines or artificial intelligence;
  • that facilitates national governments and/or legally responsible relevant authorities to declare as protected from human interference or exploitation in perpetuity identified ecosystems, oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, glaciers, icebergs, islands, national parks, deserts, plains, jungles, forests, old-growth trees, mountains, mountain tops, hills, ranges of mountains or hills, or other similar ecological entities, such as the government of New Zealand has done with the Whanganui River in 2017 (and before it with the Te Urewera hill country), and such as the Supreme Court of India has subsequently done with the Ganges and Yamuna rivers.

This charter, if adopted, (in countries that voluntarily choose to adopt it) should afford a legal basis to litigate in defence of these fundamental rights thereby ensuring the protection and preservation of these species and ecosystems.

Furthermore, we call on all people everywhere who have the means to celebrate their own birthdays and their dependants’ birthdays by annually planting a tree of their choice, and endeavouring to ensure its survival and flourishing for the rest of their lives, and we call on governments and relevant authorities to facilitate this.

We, the undersigned, affirm that these principles are entirely in accordance with our own religious traditions—and not contradicted by them—and that in light of the current global situation of climate emergency, they are necessary in order to prevent the extinction of life as we know it on the planet earth.

Signed by (in alphabetical order):

Ghazi bin Muhammad
Chinmay Pandya

Singapore, 22.6.19