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Rawls' Cake and Climate Governance: Relevance of ‘Our’ Common Future Today

Susan Ann Samuel


The climate crisis calls for new and innovative ways in which International Law can act as a guidance towards fairness—thus evoking norm cascades in the global, regional, and national levels of climate law and governance. This interdisciplinary article critically examines John Rawls’ narrative of ‘dividing a cake’ in explaining distributive justice—to stress the need to challenge and address intergenerational equity in the climate crisis. This article poses the question of whether Vanuatu’s call for ICJ’s Advisory opinion can posit such a standard and procedure for climate governance, evoking an egalitarian vision of climate governance, to address intergenerational equity. Consequently, analysing the relevance of ‘our’ in Our Common Future, today.

Susan Ann Samuel, PhD Student with the School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds – her research focusing on Climate Politics. For Correspondence: <>


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