Crimes against Future Generations: Harnessing the Potential of Individual Criminal Accountability for Global Sustainability
McGill International Journal of Sustainable Development Law & Policy, Vol. 7(2), p. 115-155, 2017
42 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2017
Date Written: March 28, 2012
The existing approach of states to the global objective of sustainable development evinces a clear failure to address acts and conduct that are unsustainable in fundamental ways. Populations around the world are experiencing the contamination of their freshwater sources and critical ecosystems, the embezzlement of state resources, the forced labour of children and women, and the discriminatory denial of access to food, shelter, medical care, education, and cultural freedoms without adequate legal recourse. This article argues that serious violations of the International Covenant of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and severe environmental damage can strike at the very foundations of the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development. It outlines the legal foundations and possible legal pathways of a new crime under international law aimed at acts and conduct that have severe consequences on the long-term health, safety and means of survival of any identifiable group or collectivity of humans. Crimes against future generations recognizes the power of individual criminal liability to fill the current governance gap that provides the permissive environment for transnational corporations and states to deny populations the basic living and environmental conditions to take first steps towards their own sustainable development.
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