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Maastricht Principles on the Human Rights of Future Generations

Maastricht Principles on the Human Rights of Future Generations

The Maastricht Principles on the Human Rights of Future Generations were adopted in early 2023 and supported by almost sixty leading experts in legal and human rights from different parts of the world. The principles were officially launched in New York City on 13 July.

During the event, GIESCR and organisations such as the Center for International Environmental Law, FIAN International, Oxfam, ESCR-Net, World Future Council, and The Conference of Non-Governmental Organisations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO) emphasised the significance of the newly adopted Maastricht Principles. These principles recognise the human rights of future generations and are considered a breakthrough for both future generations and individuals currently fighting to safeguard our shared future.

The aim of the Maastricht Principles is to provide clarity on how international human rights law applies to future generations. They offer guidance to decision-makers on how to effectively incorporate the human rights of future generations into concrete laws, charters, and declarations, based on the legal framework developed over the past 70 years.

The Principles affirm that human rights, including the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, are not bound by time constraints. They fully apply to future generations.

In 2017, our executive director, Magdalena Sepúlveda, joined a group of legal and human rights experts from around the world in a six-year process to examine how human rights law applies to the human rights of future generations. This involved drawing from extensive legal research, international treaties, national constitutions, legislation, the knowledge of Indigenous Peoples from various continents, doctrines from major faith traditions representing the majority of the world's population, and consultations with members of key social movements and over 200 experts specialising in diverse legal and philosophical disciplines. The outcome of this process is the Maastricht Principles on the Human Rights of Future Generations.

While the full impact of the Maastricht Principles will become evident over time, the previous principles in the Maastricht series (including the Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations) have already played a transformative role in the legal landscape.

The Principles state that in order to protect future generations, we must first acknowledge that they are inherently covered by existing human rights law. Therefore, respecting, protecting, and upholding the rights of future generations is simply a matter of upholding the core principle of human rights law: equality and non-discrimination.

For more information about the Principles, please visit:



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