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 6: The Precautionary Principle and Administrative Constitutionalism: The Development of Frameworks for Applying the Precautionary Principle

Elizabeth Fisher and Ronnie Harding

Extract

6. The precautionary principle and administrative constitutionalism: the development of frameworks for applying the precautionary principle1 Elizabeth Fisher and Ronnie Harding The precautionary principle is now a common feature of environmental and public health regimes in many different jurisdictions (de Sadeleer 2002, Trouwborst 2002). The process of implementing the precautionary principle has not stopped there however, and in numerous different jurisdictions there has been a focus on developing general frameworks for implementation. Yet while there is a burgeoning literature on the legitimacy of the precautionary principle, there has been very little critical attention given to these frameworks. This is a considerable deficiency in the literature when one considers that they are one of the most important means of operationalizing it. An analysis of these frameworks provides insight into the implications of applying the principle and the challenges involved in that process of application. This chapter is an introductory study of these frameworks and in it we make three points. First, policy makers and commentators need to be aware that developing these frameworks is not merely a matter of formulating practical checklists. Rather, as a framework regulates what is acceptable behaviour it will, by necessity, reflect and promote theories of what is a legitimate role for public administration, or in other words theories of administrative constitutionalism. Second, there is not one single theory of administrative constitutionalism that is promoted by these frameworks. So far, it can be seen that two different theories have tended to dominate...

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