Deconstructing the Precautionary Principle
Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
BRINGING NEW LAW TO OCEAN WATERS, David D. Caron, Harry N. Scheiber, eds., Brill, 2004
If international environmental law were to develop Ten Commandments, the precautionary principle would be near the top of the list. Like the proscriptions against killing and theft, the precautionary principle is difficult to argue with. But when we try to pin down exactly what the precautionary principle means, matters become more difficult. Behind the simple allure of the precautionary principle lie a host of difficult issues. When is precaution warranted? In what ways should we be cautious? And how cautious should we be? Different international instruments have answered these questions in very different ways. The differing definitions of the precautionary principle, and their generally platitudinous quality, suggest that the precautionary principle may not take us very far in addressing specific environmental problems.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 11
Keywords: International law, precautionary principle, environment
JEL Classification: K33, K34
Date posted: March 10, 2006