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  • Author or Editor: Catherine Iorns Magallanes x
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Catherine J. Iorns Magallanes

This Chapter discusses ways in which law can be used to incorporate indigenous cosmologies within a Western society and legal system, and better protect the natural environment in the process. It first addresses indigenous beliefs about humans’ relationship with nature, and how the indigenous cosmology contrasts with dominant and prevailing Western and liberal ideas. The Chapter then explores examples of the recognition of the right of Maori to have their cosmology upheld in New Zealand (NZ) law. In order to understand the current position, the history of the Treaty of Waitangi is first explained, as is the mechanism adopted to address the Maori grievances arising from its many breaches by the NZ government. Next, different aspects of NZ law are addressed, from recognition of Maori interests and cosmology in mainstream resource management decision-making, to special arrangements designed specifically to implement Maori cosmology in the management of NZ’s natural resources. Two such special arrangements are focused on, ones that have recognized in law the Maori view that the natural environment should be treated more as a person rather than simply as a resource. The author suggests that such incorporation of Maori cosmology in the NZ legal system is altering mainstream constructions of nature through normalizing the indigenous constructions. Thus the protection of indigenous rights to culture and religion could better protect a healthy environment for everyone.
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Kirsten Davies, Sam Adelman, Anna Grear, Catherine Iorns Magallanes, Tom Kerns and S Ravi Rajan

The Declaration on Human Rights and Climate Change responds to the profound crisis of human hierarchies now characterizing the climate crisis. The Declaration, initiated prior to the 2015 COP 21 meeting by scholars from the Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment (GNHRE), is one of a convergence of initiatives reflecting the need to understand human rights as intrinsically threatened by climate change. This article introduces the Declaration, the necessity for it, its philosophical and legal background and its support by contemporary cases providing evidence of the escalating legal need for such a tool. A key aim of the Declaration is to trace out a potential normative approach for establishing responsibility towards the planet and redressing unevenly distributed vulnerabilities and climate injustices while recognizing that it is vital that respect for human rights should be understood as an indispensable element of any adequate approach to climate change. The Declaration strives to offer a compelling level of ethical appeal, as well as to be legally literate and philosophically rigorous. The drafting process engaged scholars and communities from across the world, prioritized indigenous involvement, and drew on indigenous ontologies and epistemologies. Newer philosophical approaches such as new materialist understandings of lively materiality also informed the drafting process. Accordingly, the language of the Declaration creates space for non-Western ways of seeing and being as well as responding to insights emerging from new scientific understandings of the world.