Where Should Johannesburg Take Us? Ethical and Legal Approaches to Sustainable Development in the Context of International Environmental Law
42 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2009
Date Written: 2004
This paper explores the contemporary understanding of 'sustainable development' within the context of international environmental law. It examines the different ways in which responsibility to present and future generations and responsibility generated from past actions are conceived in international environmental law, and it relates these responsibilities to the ethical theories that provide the normative foundation of this law. In particular, the paper looks at how the principle of sustainable development is related to the principles of inter-generational equity, common but differentiated responsibilities, and the precautionary principle. The author argues that intergenerational equity is incoherent both from an ethical and legal standpoint, but that sustainable development can nonetheless be a useful concept if some of its other components such as common but differentiated responsibilities and the precautionary principle are emphasized.
Keywords: sustainable development, common but differentiated responsibilities, precautionary principle, intergenerational equity, international environmental law
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