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The fourth volume of Telos, the Fondation de Malte's book series is out.
The choice of Telos for the name of the series is inspired by the Fondation's objective to contribute towards the achievement of stated aims, Telos being the Classical Greek word for finality.

TELOS IV: What Future for Future Generations?

In a nineteenth century literary classic there is a remarkable passage delineating aspects of the debate on future generations.

“You should work for posterity.”
“What’s all this worry about posterity?...Just look under your feet and don’t worry about posterity; see that you make your peasant contented and rich and that he has the time to study of his own free will and not with you standing over him with a stick in your hand, shouting ‘’Study!’’ [But] make sure he is a good tiller. We should thank the Lord that we still have … a healthy class.’’

This excerpt, taken from Dead Souls, Gogol’s masterpiece, describes the effect of slow change in Tsarist Russia where serfs still existed and progressive ideas were being embraced (the emancipation of the serfs would officially happen in 1861, nineteen years after the publication of this book). In his text, Gogol mimics the existing discussions of his time, particularly on social change. The terrain needed only to be shifted slightly to move from a wish to protect present generations to one of safeguarding future generations. Exemplifying another aspect of equity and rights, the extract postulates that having a right does not necessarily translate into progress or improvement for the subject. The peasant would not be “healthy” and the change might not be welcome, either to the owner or to the peasant himself.

The essence of the question remains as to what present environment is to be safeguarded and for which progeny? And fundamentally, who decides on what is retained and what is discarded? Would Paris be the same without Haussmann’s urban projects and the Eiffel Tower? Yet, can we imagine these projects realized so easily in today’s western decentralized decision-making processes?

In this edition of Telos, our contributors re-examine the problematique where the rights of future generations are upheld through responsible acts of the present generation. For human rights and human duties should also be one of moral obligation from one person towards another.

But, in the end, is humankind, through its very nature, unable to safeguard this world for future generations?

Peter Serracino Inglott opens this book with a thinkpiece on the rights of Future generations as the world becomes increasingly inter-connected and seemingly more dynamic, and the possibilities cyberspace offers to implement the concept of Global Public Good. Olivier Godard looks at the legal difficulties in having real intergenerational equity and maintaining moral promises for the next generation. It would serve all better if the current societies looked at enacting small steps to safeguard the present, avoiding unnecessary strong ethical overtones to such actions. Eva Riollot examines the relationship of the changing urban landscape, as a mixed heritage is bequeathed to future generations in the Mediterranean. Salvino Busuttil looks at the concepts of human rights, human duties and human responsibilities, their linkages and overlaps. In all these approaches one must not lose track of the overriding duty to oneself, though the question remains at whose expense? Claudio Zanghi examines the legal aspects of non-refoulement, with particular emphasis on recent examples of its implementations and wherein the primary responsibility that one man should have to another should not be forgotten or ignored. Melanie Laudriec closes with an overview on the situation of the irregular migration Malta is subject to, as the southern border of the European Union, and as to the effective implementation of the rights of present generations.

We trust that the articles will stimulate renewed action by the present generation on the rights of their fellow men and women and their responsibilities to future generations.

David Raphaël Busuttil
Executive Director

Contents of Telos IV

De-Platonising the Guardian in the context of the Rights of Future Generations?

Circonstances de la justice et promesses pour les générations futures
Olivier GODARD

Générations futures et urbanisation galopante du pourtour méditerranéen: un défi supplémentaire

Rights, Present Duties, Universal Responsibilities

L’Intervento in alto mare fra “non refoulement”, diritti umani e contrasto all’immigrazione clandestina
Claudio ZANGHI

Immigration, asile, et droits de l’Homme en Europe : l’exemple maltais