Implementing the Precautionary Principle
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Implementing the Precautionary Principle

Perspectives and Prospects

Edited by Elizabeth Fisher, Judith Jones and René von Schomberg

This challenging book takes a broad and thought-provoking look at the precautionary principle and its implementation, or potential implementation, in a number of fields. In particular, it explores the challenges faced by public decision-making processes when applying the precautionary principle, including its role in risk management and risk assessment. Frameworks for improved decision-making are considered, followed by a detailed analysis of prospective applications of the precautionary principle in a number of emerging fields including: nanotechnology, climate change, natural resource management and public health policy. The analysis is both coherent and interdisciplinary, employing perspectives from law, the social sciences and public policy with a view to improving both the legitimacy and effectiveness of public policy at national and international levels.
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Chapter 4: The Precautionary Principle and Catastrophism on Tenterhooks: Lessons from Constitutional Reform in France

Olivier Godard


4. The precautionary principle and catastrophism on tenterhooks: lessons from a constitutional reform in France Olivier Godard1 INTRODUCTION The precautionary principle (PP) has been introduced and progressively acknowledged in environmental law for more than fifteen years, but to a differing extent in international, European and domestic law. Outside Europe, many countries still refuse to give it legal effect, although it is reflected in a number of international agreements, even in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement (Noiville 2000). Within the European Union, the PP has been a legal norm for environmental protection since the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 (Article 174(2)); the EU regulation of food safety in 2002 has confirmed its relevance in the field of public health, something that had already been established by case law, at least since 1998 in the context of the BSE crisis. During the same period of time, sound elements of doctrine had been progressively set up by academic work and within policy circles. Official policy statements eventually legitimized this doctrine at the EU level. Stepping stones in this regard are the Communication of the Commission in February 2000 and the Resolution of the European Council held in Nice in December 2000. In spite of these achievements, debates about the conceptual structure of the PP and the conditions and means to put it into practice have not stopped. Opposite expectations arose and fed controversies between experts and in the public debate. Thus, since the...

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