Precautionary principle

Precautionary principle
See also

Precautionary principle is a culture-based concept that is derived from changing social concepts regarding the appropriate role of science, economics, politics, law, and ethics, in environmental protection and management [1].

History of the precautionary principle

The precautionary principle has evolved from the German socio-legal tradition created during the heyday of democratic socialism in the 1930s, focusing on the concept of good home management. This was considered a constructive partnership between the economy, the individual, and the state to manage change, to improve the fate of both societies and the natural world on which survival depended. This based the precautionary principle on managerial or programmable quality, as a deliberate role in guiding future political and regulatory activities [2].

The rules and the idea

The role of the precautionary principle in applying the rules on the burden of proof is to be completely different from the respect for national decision-making or the notion of a standard of control. Nor is it intended to solve all the problems that the concept of review standard responds to in the debate on risk response and multilateral trade. Depending on how the precautionary principle is taken into account in the rules on the burden of proof, it is true that tribunals and international courts, may in some cases, apply for a new license to postpone decisions at the national level. However, the thresholds for invoking the precautionary principle are generally defined, and a reversal of the burden of proof would apply only in cases involving a particular category of subject. Besides, the precautionary principle thresholds are high and will only be exceeded in exceptional cases.

It is understood that the precautionary principle consists in departing from the "primacy of scientific evidence". Instead, the emphasis is on the limits of the scientific forecast and the need to make decisions that make the mistake of allowing the worst-case scenarios. According to the precautionary principle, the idea that it is better to establish the facts before taking action, is reversed and it is recognized that it is better to act first and then establish the facts more accurately. Although preventive measures include pre-injury intervention for known risks, precautions include the willingness of public authorities to intervene in advance for potential, hypothetical or uncertain dangers. If the risk is serious enough, precautions may involve intervention, even if the risk is simply conjectured, suspected, or fearful [3].

Global environmental change

Safety precautions are evolving due to the special requirements for adapting to global environmental loads and tensions. Earth shows signs of wear due to wild loss of land cover, soil erosion, destruction of stratospheric ozone, potentially massive loss of species, and huge gambling with a future climate, ubiquitous toxicity of ecosystems, excessive requirements for water resources and the installation of waste piles. Environmental change stimulates the precautionary principle in three ways [4]:

  • Collective action requirement

Global "shared" is a life support system of complex complexity. Natural systems provide buffering, assimilation, purification, and absorption, redistribution of physical and chemical energy to renew life. To secure these critical life support processes, it is necessary for each nation-state and global citizen to act together.

  • Load sharing requirement

Each country should follow its own precautionary measure. This opens up the load sharing range.

  • Increase of global citizenship

Global citizenship means caring for space and time, recognizing that every act has not only consequences for the households that undertake it, but for all today's households. Only by anticipating a possible disaster and caring for everyday practice, can we give prudential sensitivity to ourselves and our offspring. Three additional factors shape the evolution of the precautionary principle in modern ecology: developing science, preventive measures, shifting the burden of proof.


  1. T.O'Riordan. 1994. p.12
  2. T.O'Riordan. 1994. p.16
  3. C.E.Foster. 2011. p.18
  4. T.O'Riordan. 1994. p.12-14


Author: Magdalena Domalik