On April 17, 2023, the city of Guajará-Mirim in the state of Rondônia, Brazil approved the first law in Brazil that recognizes the legal rights of a river. The law states that “The intrinsic rights of the Laje-Komi-Memen River are recognized as a living entity and subject of rights”, and that the river has the right to “maintain its natural flow”, “to nourish and “be nourished”, “to exist with its physico-chemical conditions adequate to its ecological balance” and to relate to human beings as long as “of its spiritual, leisure, artisanal, agroecological and cultural fishing practices”. The new law provides for the creation of a committee of river guardians, made up of members of the indigenous community, fishermen, the Oro Wari organization, indigenous women artisans and the Federal University of Rondônia (2).
The proposal was authored by councilor Francisco Oro Waram (PSB), leader of the Waram Indigenous village, which is located in the Lage river region. The councilor had support from activist Iremar Ferreira of Comvida (Committee for the Defense of Amazonian Life) and Vanessa Hasson and Fabiana Leme, lawyers and founders of the NGO Mapa-Caminhos para a Paz. They explain that the legislative text was constructed with the intention of translating into the legal language of the non-indigenous man the cosmological knowledge and understanding of the original and traditional peoples about nature.