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There are now three rivers that are legally people


In the space of a week, the world has gained three notable new legal persons: the Whanganui River in New Zealand, and the Ganga and Yamuna Rivers in India.

In New Zealand, the government passed legislation that recognised the Whanganui River catchment as a legal person. This significant legal reform emerged from the longstanding Treaty of Waitangi negotiations and is a way of formally acknowledging the special relationship local Māori have with the river.

In India, the Uttarakhand high court ruled that the Ganga and Yamuna Rivers have the same legal rights as a person, in response to the urgent need to reduce pollution in two rivers considered sacred in the Hindu religion.


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