Earth Charter and International Law

Correlations between the Earth Charter and international laws
with a special emphasis on environmental laws

Discover correlations between the principles of the Earth Charter and articles and segments of more than 70 international and 183 European law instruments.
You can reference search from each of the Earth Charter principles (click on the image below), or from specific legal instruments (click on the list in the menu above).

The content of this Web site is the result of a research project conducted under the framework of the UNESCO Chair for Education for Sustainable Development with The Earth Charter. The project was carried out in collaboration
with the University for Peace, Simon Bolivar University, and the Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development.

Earth Charter Principles

I. RESPECT AND CARE FOR THE COMMUNITY OF LIFE
  1. Respect Earth and life in all its diversity.
    1. Recognize that all beings are interdependent and every form of life has value
      regardless of its worth to human beings.
    2. Affirm faith in the inherent dignity of all human beings and in the intellectual, artistic,
      ethical, and spiritual potential of humanity.
  2. Care for the community of life with understanding, compassion, and love.
    1. Accept that with the right to own, manage, and use natural resources comes the duty
      to prevent environmental harm and to protect the rights of people.
    2. Affirm that with increased freedom, knowledge, and power comes increased
      responsibility to promote the common good.
  3. Build democratic societies that are just, participatory, sustainable, and peaceful.
    1. Ensure that communities at all levels guarantee human rights and fundamental
      freedoms and provide everyone an opportunity to realize his or her full potential.
    2. Promote social and economic justice, enabling all to achieve a secure and meaningful
      livelihood that is ecologically responsible.
  4. Secure Earth’s bounty and beauty for present and future generations.
    1. Recognize that the freedom of action of each generation is qualified by the needs of
      future generations.
    2. Transmit to future generations values, traditions, and institutions that support the
      long-term flourishing of Earth’s human and ecological communities.
II. ECOLOGICAL INTEGRITY
  1. Protect and restore the integrity of Earth’s ecological systems, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life.
    1. Adopt at all levels sustainable development plans and regulations that make environmental
      conservation and rehabilitation integral to all development initiatives.
    2. Establish and safeguard viable nature and biosphere reserves, including wild lands and marine
      areas, to protect Earth’s life support systems, maintain biodiversity, and preserve our natural
      heritage.
    3. Promote the recovery of endangered species and ecosystems.
    4. Control and eradicate non-native or genetically modified organisms harmful to native species
      and the environment, and prevent introduction of such harmful organisms.
    5. Manage the use of renewable resources such as water, soil, forest products, and marine life in
      ways that do not exceed rates of regeneration and that protect the health of ecosystems.
    6. Manage the extraction and use of non-renewable resources such as minerals and fossil fuels in
      ways that minimize depletion and cause no serious environmental damage.
  2. Prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach.
    1. Take action to avoid the possibility of serious or irreversible environmental harm even when scientific knowledge is incomplete or inconclusive.
    2. Place the burden of proof on those who argue that a proposed activity will not cause significant harm, and make the responsible parties liable for environmental harm.
    3. Ensure that decision making addresses the cumulative, long-term, indirect, long distance, and global consequences of human activities.
    4. Prevent pollution of any part of the environment and allow no build-up of radioactive, toxic, or other hazardous substances.
    5. Avoid military activities damaging to the environment.
  3. Adopt patterns of production, consumption, and reproduction that safeguard Earth’s regenerative capacities, human rights, and community well-being.
    1. Reduce, reuse, and recycle the materials used in production and consumption systems, and ensure that residual waste can be assimilated by ecological systems.
    2. Act with restraint and efficiency when using energy, and rely increasingly on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
    3. Promote the development, adoption, and equitable transfer of environmentally sound technologies.
    4. Ensure universal access to health care that fosters reproductive health and responsible reproduction.
    5. Adopt lifestyles that emphasize the quality of life and material sufficiency in a finite world.
  4. Advance the study of ecological sustainability and promote the open exchange and wide application of the knowledge acquired.
    1. Support international scientific and technical cooperation on sustainability, with special attention to the needs of developing nations.
    2. Recognize and preserve the traditional knowledge and spiritual wisdom in all cultures that contribute to environmental protection and human well-being.
    3. Ensure that information of vital importance to human health and environmental protection, including genetic information, remains available in the public domain.
III. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE
  1. Eradicate poverty as an ethical, social, and environmental imperative.
    1. Guarantee the right to potable water, clean air, food security, uncontaminated soil, shelter, and safe sanitation, allocating the national and international resources required.
    2. Empower every human being with the education and resources to secure a sustainable livelihood, and provide social security and safety nets for those who are unable to support themselves.
    3. Recognize the ignored, protect the vulnerable, serve those who suffer, and enable them to develop their capacities and to pursue their aspirations.
  2. Ensure that economic activities and institutions at all levels promote human development in an equitable and sustainable manner.
    1. Promote the equitable distribution of wealth within nations and among nations.
    2. Enhance the intellectual, financial, technical, and social resources of developing nations, and relieve them of onerous international debt.
    3. Ensure that all trade supports sustainable resource use, environmental protection, and progressive labor standards.
    4. Require multinational corporations and international financial organizations to act transparently in the public good, and hold them accountable for the consequences of their activities.
  3. Affirm gender equality and equity as prerequisites to sustainable development and ensure universal access to education, health care, and economic opportunity.
    1. Secure the human rights of women and girls and end all violence against them.
    2. Promote the active participation of women in all aspects of economic, political, civil, social, and cultural life as full and equal partners, decision makers, leaders, and beneficiaries.
    3. Strengthen families and ensure the safety and loving nurture of all family members.
  4. Uphold the right of all, without discrimination, to a natural and social environment supportive of human dignity, bodily health, and spiritual well-being, with special attention to the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities.
    1. Eliminate discrimination in all its forms, such as that based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, language, and national, ethnic or social origin.
    2. Affirm the right of indigenous peoples to their spirituality, knowledge, lands and resources and to their related practice of sustainable livelihoods.
    3. Honor and support the young people of our communities, enabling them to fulfill their essential role in creating sustainable societies.
    4. Protect and restore outstanding places of cultural and spiritual significance.
IV. DEMOCRACY, NONVIOLENCE, AND PEACE
  1. Strengthen democratic institutions at all levels, and provide transparency and accountability in governance, inclusive participation in decision making, and access to justice.
    1. Uphold the right of everyone to receive clear and timely information on environmental matters and all development plans and activities which are likely to affect them or in which they have an interest.
    2. Support local, regional and global civil society, and promote the meaningful participation of all interested individuals and organizations in decision making.
    3. Protect the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly, association, and dissent.
    4. Institute effective and efficient access to administrative and independent judicial procedures, including remedies and redress for environmental harm and the threat of such harm.
    5. Eliminate corruption in all public and private institutions.
    6. Strengthen local communities, enabling them to care for their environments, and assign environmental responsibilities to the levels of government where they can be carried out most effectively.
  2. Integrate into formal education and life-long learning the knowledge, values, and skills needed for a sustainable way of life.
    1. Provide all, especially children and youth, with educational opportunities that empower them to contribute actively to sustainable development.
    2. Promote the contribution of the arts and humanities as well as the sciences in sustainability education.
    3. Enhance the role of the mass media in raising awareness of ecological and social challenges.
    4. Recognize the importance of moral and spiritual education for sustainable living.
  3. Treat all living beings with respect and consideration.
    1. Prevent cruelty to animals kept in human societies and protect them from suffering.
    2. Protect wild animals from methods of hunting, trapping, and fishing that cause extreme, prolonged, or avoidable suffering.
    3. Avoid or eliminate to the full extent possible the taking or destruction of non-targeted species.
  4. Promote a culture of tolerance, nonviolence, and peace.
    1. Encourage and support mutual understanding, solidarity, and cooperation among all peoples and within and among nations.
    2. Implement comprehensive strategies to prevent violent conflict and use collaborative problem solving to manage and resolve environmental conflicts and other disputes.
    3. Demilitarize national security systems to the level of a non-provocative defense posture, and convert military resources to peaceful purposes, including ecological restoration.
    4. Eliminate nuclear, biological, and toxic weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
    5. Ensure that the use of orbital and outer space supports environmental protection and peace.
    6. Recognize that peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of which all are a part.

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