Clauses in national constitutions

 

Let us first collect examples for clauses in constitutions. The increasing acceptance of future ethics has resulted in the fact that constitutions and constitutional drafts, worldwide, especially the ones which were adopted in the last few decades, refer to generations to come. These clauses can be grouped into three categories: general clauses for intergenerational justice, ecological generational justice clauses and financial generational justice clauses. Obviously, the fields of ecology and finances were deemed by many states so prone to intergenerational misconduct that they wanted to mention them explicitly.2

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few examples for constitutions that include general clauses for the protection of future generations, usually in the preambles:

 

 

Table 1 – General clauses for the protection of future generations from constitutions

 

 

 

Other constitutions explicitly mention the environment or sustainable development, either solely or cumulatively by a general clause (see table 2).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 2 – Constitutions which explicitly mention the environment or sustainable development

Continuing of Table 2

 

Continuing of Table 2

 

 

Continuing of Table 2

 

 

Clauses for financial intergenerational justice are found in a smaller number of constitutions and often they are more ‘hidden’. Mostly, the word ‘generation’ is not even mentioned but only ‘financial policy’ ‘balanced budget’ and so on. Normally, these clauses come cumulatively with a general clause or a clause for ecological intergenerational justice.

 

Table 3 – Clauses for financial intergenerational justice in constitutions

 

Continuing of Table 3

 

One more example for a financial intergenerational justice clause is Art. 115 of the German constitution, which we will explore in more detail later. Another interesting example is the ongoing fight for a ‘Balanced Budget Amendment’ in the USA. The Constitution of the United States does not require the Congress to pass a budget which equals the projected income to the government and the proposed expenditure. As a reaction to increasing deficits, more than a dozen attempts have been started to include a provision that stops deficit spending. Public support has ebbed and flowed, however, it seems to have been constantly over 50 per cent. Nevertheless, it never became strong enough to change the US constitution. To win passage, the amendment would have to clear both the House and Senate by two-thirds margins and then be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures. The latest attempt (but for sure not the last one) took place in February 2003 when a group of Republican house members introduced a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, arguing that recent deficits demonstrate that Congress does not have the discipline to balance the budget on its own. Like most proposals before, it included exceptions for the case of war.