Since 2006, CELDF has been assisting the people of New Hampshire to build a grassroots movement advancing community rights and protecting themselves from corporate water withdrawals, unsustainable energy development, and gas pipelines. Through codifying community rights and banning harmful activities as violations of those rights, these Towns are elevating the rights of communities and nature above the claimed “rights” of corporations.
CELDF supported the founding of the New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN) by Granite Staters in 2013, to educate residents and elected officials in New Hampshire about the right of local community self-government. Residents gathered from across the state to seat the Board of Directors in Barnstead, NH – where the Community Rights people’s movement began. In 2006 at Town Meeting, Barnstead enacted a first-in-the-nation rights-based local law, prohibiting water extractions by asserting the rights of residents to water and to local self-government, and rejecting the corporate claimed right to take community water.
NHCRN has grown to include more than fifteen communities who understand that, as important as it is to change law locally, those changes must be driven to the state level. NHCRN members are calling for state level change, such that every community is freed from the oppression of assumed corporate “rights,” as well as from state, federal, or international preemptions carried out on behalf of corporations. Such preemptions override local authority and deny people’s fundamental rights.
The state is charged with protecting citizen’s rights – the most fundamental of all being a self-governing people, and the right to change government – particularly noted in the New Hampshire State Constitution, Part First, Bill of Rights, Article 10, the Right of Revolution –
Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.
To remedy the present illegitimate use of government to deny community rights, CELDF has partnered with NHCRN to draft the New Hampshire Community Rights Amendment, adding Article 40. Right of Local Community Self-Government to the New Hampshire State Constitution’s Bill of Rights. NHCRN proposed the amendment to legislators in 2016 and again in 2018. Each introduction has gained bi-partisan support from legislators.
If the measure is approved by the legislature and adopted by New Hampshire voters, the New Hampshire state constitution will specifically recognize the right of communities to ban unsustainable development, and put in place stronger environmental protections than in state and federal law.
For more information about the New Hampshire Community Rights Network and our work to protect communities and advance rights, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.