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Book Launch: The Prevention Principle in International Environmental Law

Dr Leslie-Anne Duvic-Paoli, Lecturer at The Dickson Poon School of Law, launched her new book The Prevention Principle in International Environmental Law (Cambridge University Press, 2018) at an event organised by the Transnational Law Institute on Tuesday 2 October.

The event brought together an expert panel to discuss the legal challenges arising from the conceptualisation and application of the cornerstone principle of international environmental law, prevention. International environmental law is based on the will to avoid causing harm to the environment. Yet, the principle remains abstract and elusive in terms of exactly what is required of states to prevent environmental harm. The book addresses this issue by offering a systematic, comprehensive assessment that clarifies the rationale, content, and scope of the prevention principle while also placing it in a wider legal context. 

Leslie-Anne book launch group main image

Professor Duncan French, Professor of International Law at the University of Lincoln, reflected on the 'legal veneration' that surrounds the Trail Smelter case, a landmark dispute in the context of the prohibition to cause transboundary harm, and warned that the complexities of the dispute should not be overlooked. As the chair of the International Law Association study group on due diligence in international law, he also noted the recent developments related to the due diligence nature of prevention and highlighted their importance in the context of general approaches to accountability in international law.

Professor Jutta Brunnée, Metcalf Chair in Environmental Law at the University of Toronto, built on the book's findings to explore the current lack of clarity regarding the international legal consequences arising from the distinction commonly made in environmental law between procedural and substantive obligations. It led to an interesting debate with the audience on the environmental jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice and on the need for an integrated rule of prevention that overcomes potentially confusing distinctions.

The two panellists praised Dr Duvic-Paoli's book, Professor Brunnée describing it as a 'genuine and timely contribution' on the core principle of international environmental law that is 'careful and thoughtful'.

A podcast of the event is available here.