Nature rights in perspective: beyond the ecocentric theory and the biocultural rights (Derechos de la naturaleza en perspectiva: más allá de la teoría ecocéntrica y los derechos bioculturales)

In the paper I interrogate the key features of the legal person model adopted in each of the New Zealand, India and Colombian cases and explore the challenges posed by those features in the local context. I argue that, although there are obvious contextual differences, there are interesting commonalities in the recognition of rivers as legal persons across the three models, which might herald the emergence of a (loose) transnational concept of legal rights for rivers. Legal person models are typically presented as indicative of an ‘ecocentric’ tendency in the regulation of natural resources, in which nature is the subject rather than the object of rights. However, the New Zealand, India and Colombian cases are ‘culturally located’, in the sense that river rights are a consequence of the recognition of the (human) rights of indigenous and tribal peoples as river communities. The efficacy of rivers as persons will depend on strong institutions, governed by humans, to enforce river rights