Children’s rights and intergenerational justice

argent_pocheIn 1976 Francois Truffaut explored the topic of children’s rights and child abuse in his movie: Small Change / Pocket Money. To quote: “Of all mankind’s injustices, injustice to children is the most despicable! Live isn’t always fair, but we can fight for justice. It’s the only way. It’s a slow process, but we do move forward. All people with power like to claim they are impervious to threats. But they do give in to pressure. A show of strength is the only way to get results. Adults understand that, and they obtain what they ask for by demonstrating. When adults are determined, they can improve their lot. But children’s rights are totally ignored. Political parties are not concerned. […] Do you know why? Because children don’t vote! If kids had the right to vote, they would have better schools and sports facilities.” and “Life isn’t easy. You must steel yourselves to face it. I don’t mean ‘hard-boiled’. I am talking about endurance and resilience. […] Before long, you will have children of your own. If you love them, they will love you. If they don’t feel you love them, they will transfer their love and tenderness to other people. Or to things. That’s life! Each of us needs to be loved!”

I love this.

The understanding and advancement of Children’s Rights is an impressive achievement of the 20th century. Progress in international agreements – from the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1924), over the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959) to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) – has been translated into both local laws and public understanding in broad parts of the world. The process is still ongoing. Here I want to highlight something I feel we need special progress on:

All expressions of children’s rights have – understandably – a bias towards the rights that children have now. While they are children. However, one of the central topics that will affect our children’s lives is not covered: The plundering of resources that by right should belong to many generations, by consuming all the stores our planet holds for humanity, in a single generation. Our unsustainable lifestyle, our destruction of the climate, biodiversity. Allowing ourselves to become more humans than the planet can carry. And leave it to them, how to balance their existence in the face of depleted resources, overpopulation and falling food production.

The right to inherit a habitable planet can be seen as an implicit children’s right already present in the current framework. But it seems not to be recognized.

The right to inherit a habitable planet should be an explicitly stated and enforced children’s right!

What was said in Small Change / Pocket Money applies.

PS: This is my first real blog post ever ❤


(© Gregor Hagedorn 2017, CC BY-SA 4.0, publ. 2017-08-16, updated 2018-02-04)

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