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Symposium on global plastic pollution. Fighting plastics with environmental principles? The relevance of the prevention principle in the global governance of plastics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-199
Number of pages5
JournalAJIL Unbound
Published20 Jul 2020


King's Authors


A common exercise for international lawyers faced with a new global environmental problem consists in undertaking a review of the applicable law. Environmental principles generally feature extensively in such studies: their open-textured nature is recognized to facilitate a fluid adaptation of international law as new risks become apparent. Among these principles is the foundational prevention principle, which is based on the rationale that environmental damage is best avoided rather than repaired. Since its international recognition in the 1972 Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment, 1 the prevention principle has gained an influential place in the work of environmental lawyers. While it is readily assumed that the principle is able to guide state responses to the plastics crisis, 2 its exact functions and legal implications in this context remain underexplored. 3 The purpose of this essay is to shed light on the different roles that the prevention principle can play in response to the proliferation of harmful plastics.

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