Tag Archives: rights of future generations

An Environmental Rights Amendment: Good Message, Bad Idea (J. B. Ruhl)


J.B. Ruhl


Constitutional law, United States constitution, environmental law, right to clean and healthy environment, rights of future generations, natural resources, national natural resources, constitutional amendment


“After having lain dormant for almost twenty years, proposals for an amendment to the United States Constitution that would elevate environmental protection to the status of a fundamental right are on the rise. Since 1990, several such measures have been offered by groups as diverse as New Jersey fifth graders and well-funded environmental preservation organizations. Now, led by concerned members of thirty-seven state legislatures, a politically viable initiative is fully underway to have such a resolution introduced in Congress. See Richard L. Brodsky and Richard L. Russman, A Constitutional Initiative, Defenders, Fall 1996, at 37. The proposed language of their environmental rights amendment declares:

The natural resources of the nation are the heritage of present and future generations. The right of each person to clean and healthful air and water, and to the protection of other natural resources of the nation, shall not be infringed by any person.

These two sentences, faithful to the constitutional tradition of conciseness, express an elegant message of national commitment to environmental protection and to a future of environmental sustainability. But what a terrible idea it is to embody that message in the form of an amendment to the Constitution” (46).


(1996-1997) 11 Natural Resources & Environment pp. 46-49


An Environmental Rights Amendment: Good Message, Bad Idea


Environmental Justice and the Rights of Unborn and Future Generations: Law, Environmental Harm and the Right to Health (L. Westra)


Laura Westra, President of the Global Ecological Integrity Group (GEIG)


social justice, rights of future generations, environmental justice, law, environmental harm, health, right to health, human rights


The traditional concept of social justice is increasingly being challenged by the notion of a human-kind which spans current and future generations. This book is the first systematic examination of how the rights of the unborn and future generations are handled in common law and under international legal instruments. It provides comprehensive coverage of the arguments over international legal instruments, key legal cases and examples including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, industrial disasters, clean water provision, diet, HIV/AIDS, environmental racism and climate change.

The result is the most controversial and thorough examination to date of the subject and the enormous ramifications and challenges it poses to every aspect of international and domestic environmental, human rights, trade and public health law and policy. Also covered are international agreements and objectives as diverse as the Kyoto Protocol, the Millennium Development Goals and international trade.

In many countries, a three-month-old foetus can be aborted – so what does the law say about the poisoning of an unborn child by a toxic spill, HIV infection or the future damage of climate change?This is a powerful book that examines the right of the unborn to health – essential for governments, polluting industries, NGOs and lawyers dealing with pollution, health and the rights of the unborn. It offers a comprehensive coverage of key international legal instruments, cases from Bhopal to Chernobyl, and arguments on environmental harm, justice and the rights of future generations to health.

‘Laura Westra’s book is a welcome addition to the growing body of work on environmental jurisprudence and the link to social justice’ Elizabeth May, Executive Director, Sierra Club of Canada ‘If outrage against social injustice galvanizes your life, Laura Westra’s magisterial Environmental Justice and the Rights of Unborn and Future Generations is the single book you must read and use this year’ Robert Goodland, former Chief Environmental Adviser to the World Bank Group ‘Westra brings another important interdisciplinary perspective on this topic.’ Journal of Human Rights.


Laura Westra, Environmental Justice and the Rights of Unborn and Future Generations: Law, Environmental Harm and the Right to Health (Earthscan, 2006)


Environmental Justice and the Rights of Unborn and Future Generations: Law, Environmental Harm and the Right to Health


Choosing a Future: Social and Legal Aspects of Climate Change (A. Grear and C. Gearty)


Anna Grear and Conor Gearty


Choosing a future, human rights, environment, rights of future generations, climate justice, climate injustice, policy makers, law and society


Climate change is far more than a problem of measures of carbon dioxide, methane and the production of pollutants. It signals an urgent crisis of human hierarchy and a crisis of self-understanding. Climate change calls out for new ways of looking, hearing and acting in the world. It calls out for a justice embracing the whole of the vulnerable living order. It calls out for a transformation – in response – of human society and of law itself. This collection offers one unique strand of a far wider search. It points unerringly towards the need, now, to choose between futures.


(2014) 0 Journal of Human Rights and the Environment 1-7


Choosing a Future: The Social and Legal Aspects of Climate Change