The human right to a green future: Environmental rights and intergenerational justice
This book presents an argument for environmental human rights as the basis of intergenerational environmental justice. It argues that the rights to clean air, water, and soil should be seen as the environmental human rights of both present and future generations. It presents several new conceptualizations central to the development of theories of both human rights and justice, including emergent human rights, reflexive reciprocity as the foundation of justice, and a communitarian foundation for human rights that both protects the rights of future generations and makes possible an international consensus on human rights – beginning with environmental human rights. In the process of making the case for environmental human rights, the book surveys and contributes to the entire field of human rights theory and environmental justice.
Richard P. Hiskes is Professor of Political Science and Senior Political Theorist at the University of Connecticut. He is the Editor of the Journal of Human Rights and Associate Director of the Human Rights Institute. He is the author or co-author of four other books, most recently of Democracy, Risk, and Community: Technological Hazards and the Evolution of Liberalism (1998). Professor Hiskes has published works on a variety of topics within political theory, human rights theory, environmental ethics, and science and technology policy. He has published articles in many journals, including Review of Politics, Human Rights Quarterly, Public Affairs Quarterly, Human Rights Review, Hume Studies, Women and Politics, Policy Studies, and others.
The Human Right to a Green Future
Environmental rights and intergenerational justice
Richard P. Hiskes
University of Connecticut
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© Richard P. Hiskes 2009
This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.
First published 2009
Printed in the United States of America
A catalog record for this publication is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication data
Hiskes, Richard P., 1951– The human right to a green future : environmental rights and intergenerational justice / Richard P. Hiskes. p.cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-521-87395-6 (hardback) – ISBN 978-0-521-69614-2 (pbk.) 1. Environmental law. 2. Human rights. I. Title. K3585.H57 2008 344.04′6–dc22 2008027687
ISBN 978-0-521-87395-6 hardback
ISBN 978-0-521-69614-2 paperback
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For Anne D., Anne, and Ben,
in gratitude for
The Presence of the Past
1 Environmental Human Rights and Intergenerational Justice
2 Emergent Human Rights, Identity, Harms, and Duties
3 Reflexive Reciprocity and Intergenerational Environmental Justice
4 Cosmopolitan Ethics, Communal Reciprocity, and Global Environmentalism
5 Toward a Global Consensus on Environmental Human Rights
6 Human Rights as Inheritance: Instituting Intergenerational Environmental Justice
7 Conclusion: Environmental Justice and the Emergent Future of Human Rights
All books are, like this one, emergent products of the author's relationships with many others over the course of many years. It is never really possible to acknowledge all the intellectual debts one owes for what appears on subsequent pages, but here is where one attempts the impossible, always in the hope that important contributors are not excluded.
In a significant sense, this book is the product of the Human Rights Program at the University of Connecticut. Although little more than a decade old, the vibrancy, intellectual insight, and enthusiasm encountered daily in interchanges with students, faculty, and staff of the program have richly stimulated the research behind this book and many other current projects at the University. Director Richard A. Wilson, therefore, deserves special gratitude for all that he has accomplished in his short tenure. Thanks also to members of the University administration whose foresight, imagination, and support made the program a reality.
Also deserving of special mention are Professors Alanson Minkler and Shareen Hertel, originators and hosts of the campus-wide intellectual salon, the Economic Rights Group (ERG). I owe a large intellectual debt to all the ERG participants, who discussed, ridiculed, respected, and otherwise fruitfully critiqued the arguments that populate the following pages.
The University of Connecticut provided needed support in terms of time and finances, notably in awarding me the Provost's Research Fellowship. The Department of Political Science, and particularly its Head, Professor Howard Reiter, was gracious in encouraging my scholarly and administrative moves into both the field of human rights and into the campus program. Within that program countless students, both graduate and undergraduate, have influenced the development of the ideas represented in this book. I thank them all. I also benefited from comments offered orally and in print from
audience members at the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute, before whom I made the first public presentation of this project.
Several pieces of the following arguments were presented at the American Political Science Association annual meeting, and early versions of them appeared in Human Rights Quarterly, Human Rights Review, and Public Affairs Quarterly. I am grateful both to panel audiences and to anonymous reviewers for their contributions.
Finally, in this endeavor as in all others of my adult life, discussions with my fellow human rights scholar, life partner, and intellectual better half, Professor Anne Hiskes, have been the sine qua non of any achievement represented here.
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