An International Declaration on Individual and Common Rights to Earth
We hereby declare that the earth is the common heritage of all and that all people have natural and equal rights to the land of the planet. By the term “land” is meant all natural resources. Subject always to these natural and equal rights in land and to this common ownership, individuals can and should enjoy certain subsidiary rights in land. These rights properly enjoyed by individuals are:
1. The right to secure exclusive occupation of land
2. The right to exclusive use of land occupied.
3. The right to the free transfer of land according to the laws of the country.
4. The right to transmit land by inheritance.
These individual rights do not include:
1. The right to use land in a manner contrary to the common good of all, e.g., in such a manner as to destroy or impair the common heritage.
2. The right to appropriate what economists call the Economic Rent of land.
The Economic Rent is the annual value attaching to the land alone apart from any improvements thereon created by labor. This value is created by the existence of and the functioning of the whole community wherein the individual lives and is in justice the property of the community. To allow this value to be appropriated by individuals enables land to be used not only for the production of wealth but as an instrument of oppression of human by human leading to severe social consequences which are everywhere evident.
All humans have natural and equal rights in land. Those rights may be exercised in two ways:
1. By holding land as individuals and/or
2. Sharing in the common use of the Economic Rent of land.
The Economic Rent of land can be collected for the use of the community by methods similar to those by which real estate taxes are now collected. That is what is meant by the policy of Land Value Taxation. Were this community created land value collected, the many taxes which impede the production of wealth and limit purchasing power could be abolished.
The exercise of both common and individual rights in land is essential to a society based on justice. But the rights of individuals in natural resources are limited by the just rights of the community. Denying the existence of common rights in land creates a condition of society wherein the exercise of individual rights becomes impossible for the great mass of the people.
WE THEREFORE DECLARE THAT THE EARTH IS THE BIRTHRIGHT OF ALL PEOPLE.
Originally composed and declared at a meeting of the International Union for Land Value Taxation held in 1949.