The Precautionary Principle: Development of an International Standard
Sonia E. Rolland
Northeastern University - School of Law; Georgetown University Law Center
Michigan Journal of International Law, Vol. 23, p. 429, 2002
Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper
This Note characterizes and evaluates the current status of the precautionary principle in international law and suggests how it could be more effectively incorporated into bodies of law such as trade law. Much of the literature focuses on whether the principle is a legal rule. This Note shows that precaution need not necessarily fit into the traditional categories of international legal sources but may derive its legal force from being interpreted as a standard.
The Note argues that the legal status of the principle has evolved from a policy discourse to a binding form. However, the status of the principle as a standard is not necessarily a step on the way to the creation of a rule. The fact that a treaty makes it a rule to use precaution does not alter the nature of precaution as a standard. The precautionary principle will therefore gain its legal value from being refined by negotiators and interpreted by adjudicators rather than being turned into a traditional rule.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 41
Keywords: precautinary principle, best efforts, due diligence, international law, environmental law, WTO, ECJ, EU, ITLOS, GMO, fisheries, asbestos, beef hormones
Date posted: June 22, 2010 ; Last revised: November 13, 2012
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