Facing the Future: The Case for A Right to a Healthy Environment for Future Generations under International Law
This paper seeks to examine whether the current framework of international human rights law formally grants the right to a healthy environment to future generations. There has been much debate regarding the effectiveness of international human rights law in guaranteeing environmental sustainability in particular without the consideration of future generations. The right to a healthy environment was specifically chosen both as a means of narrowing the scope of this research and given that future generations are a fundamental concept of international law relating to environmental sustainability. In Section II, all relevant concepts, including ‘future generations’, ‘intergenerational justice and ‘environmental sustainability’ will be defined and explored. In addition, a link will be established between intergenerational equity and sustainable development in light of current literature and scholarly discussion. The following section discusses how the link drawn between environmental protection, human rights protection and environmental sustainability provides for a common approach to fully handling current environmental issues. Subsequently, a positive analysis of present day international legal instruments, customary international law and case law will be conducted, to determine the current status of future generations regarding the right to a healthy environment. Use will also be made of academic literature on the subject, including extensive research carried out by scholars such as Edith Brown Weiss and Bridgit Lewis. To conclude, the findings of each section will be summarised, and a final conclusion will be drawn as to the state of future generations in international law and the potential for the right to a healthy environment to be accorded to them.
Copyright (c) 2020 Jochelle Greaves Siew
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