A Social Contract for Third-Party Beneficiaries – The Transnational Perspective of Environmental Constitutionalism

For the rightful acquisition of property, John Locke states a central precondition: Property may only be acquired, if “enough, and as good” is left for others’ enjoyment. Violations of this requirement –also an expression of equality– that occur in the state of nature are (among other breaches of natural law) prevented through the conclusion of the social contract. Today, the wealth creation in industrialised nations wilfully neglects to leave “enough, and as good” for others. Through excessive carbon emissions the livelihoods of great parts of the world population are threatened. However, since the primary victims of climate crisis live in least developed countries, they stand outside the social contracts of the front-ranking emitters. While in Locke’s time the protection of foreigners’ only required their inclusion into the social contract when entering into societal territory, modern insights into the interconnectedness of the biosphere bring the limitations of this idea into focus.