n Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Common heritage : saving the environment for humankind or exploiting resources in the name of eco-imperialism?

Volume 41, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



Humankind is threatened by global environmental problems. Several scholars and states have therefore proposed the application of the 'common heritage of mankind' (CHM) principle to areas that fall within the territories of state. This may strengthen the international management of important resources, such as the Amazon. In this article the author critically examines the CHM principle and its application to global environmental resources. The relevance of the so-called 'common concern of mankind' also receives attention. The author approaches the issue from a critical Southern perspective in order to determine what the implications for developing countries are and concludes that the application of the CHM principle may benefit the rich to the detriment of the people of developing countries. The incorrect application of CHM does not take account of the history and purpose of this principle and that it may even destroy the permanent sovereignty of developing states and result in an 'expropriation' of resources of the developing world. The article concludes with alternative proposals.

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