4 Geo. Int'l Envtl. L. Rev. 303 (1991-1992)
The Precautionary Concept in Environmental Policy and Law: Institutionalizing Caution

handle is hein.journals/gintenlr4 and id is 307 raw text is: The Precautionary Concept in Environmental
Policy and Law: Institutionalizing Caution
ELLEN HEY*
INTRODUCTION
Official documents' and literature' illustrate that the precautionary prin-
ciple/approach is likely to play a prominent role in the development of
international environmental policy and law. However, its precise meaning
and implications remain unclear. This is regrettable since the concept in-
volved has been called the most important new policy approach in interna-
tional environmental co-operation.s Elimination of all confusion surround-
ing this concept would be too great a task for one commentator. Instead,
this article presents an analysis of the precautionary principle/approach
and thereby contributes to the discussion on the implications of this con-
cept for international environmental policy and law.
The first section of this article contains an analysis of the precautionary
* Lecturer in public international law, Faculty of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Nether-
lands. Many of the ideas in this article were developed while preparing a paper (Document LDC 14/4)
for the Secretariat of the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and
Other Matter (hereinafter London Dumping Convention or LDC). The author wishes to thank Dr.
Manfred K. Nauke for his helpful comments. The views expressed in this article are the author's own,
and are not intended to represent the views of the institutions or persons mentioned.
1. E.g., Bamako Convention on the Ban of the Import Into Africa and the Control of Transboundary
Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes Within Africa, Jan. 29, 1991, art. 4.3(0, 30 I.L.M.
773; Ministerial Declaration of the Second World Climate Conference, Nov. 7, 1990,    7 & 8, re-
printed in I Y.B. INT'L ENVTL. L. 473 (Ginther Handl ed., 1990); Report of the Secretary-General of
the Conference on Environment and Development, Protection of Oceans, All Kinds of Seas Including
Enclosed and Semi-Enclosed Seas, Coastal Areas and the Protection, Rational Use and Development
of Their Living Resources, 3d Prep. Comm., Provisional Agenda Item 2, at   8 & 36, U.N. Doc. A/
CONF.151/PC/42/Add.6 (1991).
2. On the precautionary approach in general, see James Cameron & Juli Abouchar, The Precaution-
ary Principle: A Fundamental Principle of Law and Policy for the Protection of the Global Environ-
ment, 14 B.C. INT'L & COMP. L. REV. 1 (1991); David Freestone, The Precautionary Principle, in
International Law and Global Climate Change 21 (R.R. Churchill & David Freestone eds., 1991);
Lothar Gfindling, The Status in International Law of the Principle of Precautionary Action, in Special
Issue, The North Sea: Perspectives on Regional Environmental Co-operation, 5 INT'L J. ESTUARINE &
COASTAL L. 23 (David Freestone & Ton Iilstra eds., 1990); Andri Nollkaemper, The Precautionary
Principle in International Environmental Law: What's New Under the Sun?, 22 MARINE POLLUTION
BULL. 107 (1991); K.C. Stairs & P.A. Johnston, The Precautionary Action Approach to Environmen-
tal Protection, in EUROPEAN CENTRE FOR POLLUTION RESEARCH, PROCEEDINGS OF INTERNATIONAL
CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION at 473 (B. Nath & J.P. Robinson eds., 1991).
3. Freestone, supra note 2, at 36.

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