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Table 1 Selection of references to the precautionary principle in international law

From: SVHC in imported articles: REACH authorisation requirement justified under WTO rules

Short title of document Reference Wording
Montreal protocol [32] Preamble, para. 6 ‘Determined to protect the ozone layer by taking precautionary measures to control equitably total global emissions of substances that deplete it, with the ultimate objective of their elimination on the basis of developments in scientific knowledge, taking into account technical and economic considerations’
2nd North Sea Conference Ministerial Declaration [33] Preamble, para. 7 ‘[I]n order to protect the North Sea from possibly damaging effects of the most dangerous substances, a precautionary approach is necessary which may require action to control inputs of such substances even before a causal link has been established by absolutely clear scientific evidence’
Bergen Ministerial Declaration [34] Para. 7 ‘In order to achieve sustainable development, policies must be based on the precautionary principle. Environmental measures must anticipate, prevent, and attack the causes of environmental degradation. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation’
Bamako convention [35] Art. 4(3)(f) ‘Each Party shall strive to adopt and implement the preventive, precautionary approach to pollution problems which entails, inter-alia, preventing the release into the environment of substances which may cause harm to humans or the environment without waiting for scientific proof regarding such harm’
Water convention [36] Art. 2(5)(a) ‘[…] the Parties shall be guided by the following principles: The precautionary principle, by virtue of which action to avoid the potential transboundary impact of the release of hazardous substances shall not be postponed on the ground that scientific research has not fully proved a causal link between those substances, on the one hand, and the potential transboundary impact, on the other hand’
Framework convention on climate change [37] Art. 3(3) ‘The Parties should take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize the causes of climate change and mitigate its adverse effects. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing such measures, taking into account that policies and measures to deal with climate change should be cost-effective so as to ensure global benefits at the lowest possible cost’
Biodiversity convention [38] Preamble, para. 9 ‘Noting also that where there is a threat of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to avoid or minimize such a threat’
OSPAR convention [39] e.g. Art. 2(2)(a) ‘The Contracting Parties shall apply: the precautionary principle, by virtue of which preventive measures are to be taken when there are reasonable grounds for concern that substances or energy […] bring about hazards to human health, harm living resources and marine ecosystems […] even when there is no conclusive evidence of a causal relationship between the inputs and the effects’
Cartagena protocol [40] e.g. Art. 1 ‘In accordance with the precautionary approach contained in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the objective of this Protocol is to contribute to ensuring an adequate level of protection in the field of the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms […]’
POP convention [5] Art. 1 ‘Mindful of the precautionary approach as set forth in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the objective of this Convention is to protect human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants’
Art. 8(9) ‘The Conference of the Parties, taking due account of the recommendations of the Committee, including any scientific uncertainty, shall decide, in a precautionary manner, whether to list the chemical, and specify its related control measures […]’