Deconstructing the Precautionary Principle

BRINGING NEW LAW TO OCEAN WATERS, David D. Caron, Harry N. Scheiber, eds., Brill, 2004

11 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2006  

Daniel Bodansky

Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Abstract

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.

Keywords: International law, precautionary principle, environment

JEL Classification: K33, K34

Suggested Citation

Bodansky, Daniel, Deconstructing the Precautionary Principle. BRINGING NEW LAW TO OCEAN WATERS, David D. Caron, Harry N. Scheiber, eds., Brill, 2004 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=888831

Daniel Bodansky (Contact Author)

Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States

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