Maastricht principles and guidelines
The Maastricht Principles on the Human Rights of Future Generations
In 2017, a group of legal and human rights experts from around the world undertook a six-year process to examine the landscape of human rights law as it applies to the human rights of future generations. They drew from more than a century of legal research, international treaties, national constitutions, and legislation, the knowledge of Indigenous Peoples from every continent, doctrines from major faith traditions representing the majority of the world’s people, and consultations with members of key social movements and more than 200 experts spanning a wide array of legal and philosophical disciplines. The result is the Maastricht Principles on the Human Rights of Future Generations, adopted earlier in 2023 and endorsed by nearly sixty leading legal and human rights experts from around the world.
The Maastricht Principles are intended to clarify the state of international human rights law as it applies to future generations. They should guide decision-makers to answer fundamental questions about how to effectively incorporate the human rights of future generations into concrete laws, charters, and declarations to respect, protect, and promote the rights of future generations based on the legal architecture that has been evolving over the last 70 years. The Principles clarify that human rights, including the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, do not have temporal limitations. Human rights apply fully to future generations. While the full impacts of the Maastricht Principles will develop over time, the Principles’ predecessors in the Maastricht series have transformed the legal landscape previously. As States grapple with how to protect future generations, the Principles state that we must first recognize that future generations are inherently covered by the existing body of human rights law. Therefore, respecting, protecting, and upholding the rights of future generations is simply a matter of upholding the most fundamental concept in human rights law: equality and non-discrimination. This initiative builds on expert legal opinions adopted in Maastricht, the Limburg Principles on the Implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1986); the Maastricht Guidelines on Violations of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1997); and the Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2011) and its accompanying commentary.
Read the Maastricht Principles on the Human Rights of Future Generations in English, French, and Spanish and via www.rightsoffuturegenerations.org.