Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 February 2017
In recent years, lawyers have begun to join ecologists in debating whether there are—or should be—obligations to protect the interests of future generations. This legal debate was preceded by a philosophical one, dating back to the early 1970s, on the emergence of a new or “ecological” ethic redefining the relationship between man and nature in such a way as to ensure the survival of the human species on earth. The background to the various ethical approaches has been the indisputable fact that humanity has accumulated a monstrous potential to destroy life on earth, and that it is using natural resources and the environment in a way that threatens the survival of future generations—at least, at a standard that we today consider worthy of human beings.
1 For the German-speaking context, see P. Saladin & C. A. Zenger, Rechte Künftiger Generationen (1988).
2 Jonas, H., Das Prinzip Verantwortung (1979): Ökologie und Ethik (D. Birnbacher ed. 1980); Responsibilities to Future Generations: Environmental Ethics (E. Partridge ed. 1980)Google Scholar.
3 See part III infra.
4 See Weiss, The Planetary Trust: Conservation and Intergenerational Equity, 11 Ecology L.Q. 495, 540 ff. (1984).
5 World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future (1987) [hereinafter Our Common Future].
6 Id. at 43.
7 Id. at 348 (Ann. I); see also Experts Group on Environmental Law of the World Commission on Environment and Development, Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development (1987).
8 Our Common Future, supra note 5, at 332.
9 Id. at 333.
10 See part I infra.
11 See part II infra.
12 Weiss, supra note 4.
13 Id. at 499 ff.
14 P. Saladin & C. A. Zenger, supra note 1.
15 See Gündling, The Status in International Law of the Principle of Precautionary Action, Int’l J. Estuarine & Coastal L. (forthcoming).
16 Weiss, supra note 4, at 540 ff.
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