Human Rights, Future Generations and Climate Change: Promise and Limits
Mr Peter Lawrence (Senior Lecturer, Law Faculty, University of Tasmania, Australia) recently came to SSEE to give a talk on Human Rights, Future Generations and Climate Change, with Research Fellow Dr Chuks Okereke acting as chair.
Seminar Summary: Climate change imperils the rights of future unborn generations particularly the poor. But how can such generations have rights? A contingent or interests theory of rights holds promise in ensuring adequate focus on particularly vulnerable groups including the future poor. A number of criteria are suggested to assess whether a human rights approach adds value in addressing these issues, including whether it constitutes a clarion call for action and can deliver benchmarks in relation to future groups better than eg a welfare or capacity approach. But the limits of human rights approaches should be recognized and this is demonstrated by consideration of key policy dilemmas in the climate debate, such as the conflict between inter and intra-generational justice where principles outside of human rights must be invoked to find solutions. This seminar is linked to Peter Lawrence’s research for his book “Justice for Future Generations: Climate Change and International Law” (Edward Elgar).
Speaker Biography: Peter is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Tasmania Law School. Peter is currently working on a book “Justice for future generations: climate change and international law” (Edward Elgar) and was a visiting scholar at the Australian National University (ANU) College of Law, Canberra, in February 2011. He previously worked for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which included leading a number of Australian delegations to negotiations on multilateral environment agreements while working as the First Secretary for the Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva. His teaching and research is in the field of international law, international environmental law and trade law with a particular interest in technology transfer and justice aspects of climate change.