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Environmental PrinciplesFrom Political Slogans to Legal Rules$
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Nicolas de Sadeleer

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199254743

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199254743.001.0001

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The Precautionary Principle

The Precautionary Principle

(p.91) 3 The Precautionary Principle
Environmental Principles


Oxford University Press

This chapter explains that precaution is the end point of a range of public measures intended to counter ecological damage. It reviews the definitions given to the principle in various legal systems, as well as representative court decisions, in order to set out the problematic elements inherent in this norm. It considers the various thresholds for application of the precautionary principle. It sets out the difficulties that characterize the principle and recommends ways in which these weaknesses might be remedied. It assesses how the principle might fuel the evolution of environmental law by introducing uncertainty to an unparalleled extent in both rulings and sanctions. It shows that opposing science to precaution is unproductive and proposes practical solutions in the field of risk assessment and management. It also demonstrates how the principle could influence the elaboration of standards and civil liability.

Keywords:   precautionary principle, ecological damage, risk assessment, risk management, science, civil liability

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