The 4th Sustainability Principle -- that in a sustainable society, people aren't subject to conditions that systematically undermine their capacity to meet their needs -- is essentially a human rights statement.
In thinking about human needs, we use Max-Neef's concept of 10 basic human needs , that are non-hierarchical and constant across time and cultures (although the ways in which these needs are satisfied can vary widely across cultures and between different eras).
The UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a profound statement stemming from the horrors of WWII. The world saw what systematic violations of human rights could lead to... and it's not sustainable. At some point, under such conditions of oppression and abuses of power, human societies will break down into conflict.
Below are the 10 basic human needs, with reference to corresponding articles of the UDHR.
- Subsistence (article 3, 25)
- Understanding (article 26)
- Creativity (article 19, 27)
- Freedom (article 1, 2, 3, 4, 9)
- Participation (article 20, 21, 23, 27, 29)
- Idleness (article 24)
- Protection (article 5, 6, 7, 12, 14, 27, 30)
- Affection (article 16)
- Identity (article 15, 23)
- Transcendence (article 18)