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Abstract

This Comment will argue that the current use and application of the precautionary principle should not be abandoned. However, before adopting the principle as a rule of international law, the international community should look to the European Union as a starting point for how to uniformly define and apply the precautionary principle. Accordingly, Part II of this Comment will examine the various formulations of the precautionary principle and the widespread adoption of a precautionary approach in a number of international instruments. Part III will describe the European Union's use of the principle and its attempt to balance environmental and public health concerns against economic concerns. Specifically, this section will discuss the European Union Treaty, the European Court of Justice's interpretation of that treaty, and several recent decisions from the European Union. This section will also examine a recent European Union Communication on the Precautionary Principle. Part IV will discuss the United States' adoption of a precautionary approach nationally and its reluctance to do so internationally. Finally, Part V will argue that the international community should adopt the precautionary principle if it can ensure uniform definition and application of the principle so as to avoid arbitrary decisions that fail to adequately address potential environmental and public health risks or decisions that are motivated by economic protectionism.

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