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75 years after Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Time to recognize rights of future generations

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a milestone in the evolution of respect for human rights. As we mark its anniversary, we also consider the outlook for the coming 75 years.

The failure of the current global capitalist model to deliver peace, equality and a sustainable social, economic and ecological future is hard to deny.

And growing hunger, corporate capture of food systems, armed conflicts and ecological destruction will impact equally, if not more, on future generations – unless we can change direction.

Vulnerable communities

In a new briefing paper 75 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: what outlook for future generations? FIAN International and FIAN national sections examine three major threats to humanity – hunger, armed conflict and ecological destruction – from the perspective of intra- and intergenerational justice .

“Looking to the future of human rights at this historic time, it is important to reaffirm our commitment to what was agreed 75 years ago, in the wake of the enormous human suffering of World War Two. If historical and current injustices are not corrected, this will ultimately undermine respect for human rights of future generations,” said Ana María Suárez, FIAN Permanent Representative at the UN.

“We must resolve the big, interrelated challenges facing our planet now – hunger, armed conflict, and eco-destruction. The most vulnerable communities, who bear the brunt of global injustice and impunity are leading a way forward that cares for human rights and the planet. But above all the states that represent us are ultimately responsible for the plight of future generations of all living beings.”

A way forward

This briefing paper examines current threats to humanity through the lens of the Maastricht Principles on the Human Rights of Future Generations, which clarify how international law applies to the rights of future generations, as well as offering a way forward.

These recently adopted legal principles – developed by human rights experts, Indigenous Peoples and other civil society groups – and signed by almost 60 former and current UN experts – provide a progressive reading of existing human rights standards. They also acknowledge people’s interdependence with ecosystems, the rights of nature and the knowledge systems of Indigenous Peoples, peasants and traditional communities.

FIAN urges all UN member states to apply the framework of intra and intergenerational justice when they make decisions. This includes adopting all necessary measures to ensure human rights-based food systems transformation. It also means introducing just transitions in line with human rights obligations, correcting current injustices and ensuring that future generations can enjoy their inalienable human rights, living in dignity and in harmony with nature.

For more information or media interviews please contact Amanda Cordova Gonzales: