Crimes against Future Generations
Behaviour which is so terrible that it puts the very survival of life at risk should be prohibited and prosecuted. When individuals act despite knowing the severe consequences of their acts or conduct on the long-term health, safety, or means of survival of human populations, they are committing what we call a crime against future generations.
These acts or conduct would cover political, military, economic, cultural or scientific activities that
Crimes against future generations would not be future crimes, nor crimes committed in the future. Rather, they would apply to acts or conduct undertaken in the present which have serious repercussions for the natural environment, human populations, species or ecosystems in the present and which have consequences, as assessed in the present, for human populations in the long-term.
Just as crimes against humanity are not crimes which are directly committed against humanity, crimes against future generations would also not be directly committed against future generations. The term “humanity” in crimes against humanity indicates that this crime concerns offences which are of concern to all of humanity, and that the gravity is such that when they are committed, all of humanity is injured and aggrieved. Crimes against future generations are similar, and arise where there is a connection, in terms of knowledge and causation, between the underlying offence and damage to human populations in the long-term.
Read here about our work to establish crimes against future generations as crimes under international law.
The practice of bottom-trawling is a good example where we do not need to wait for such a crime to be committed. We have a clear warning of the possibility of that crime, and we need to do all we can now to prevent the threat to the oceans that this practice entails.
"In the 1990s, The Cousteau Society developed and promoted a Bill of Rights for Future Generations… To enforce such a set of rights for future generations, we need to create a criminal conceptualization that designates the worst offenses against these rights as crimes against future generations, the worst crimes being those that would foreclose the future altogether or that would make life on the planet untenable."
WFC Councillor David Krieger