The management of risk in foreign and defence policy: the precautionary principle and decisions on war

Alan Patterson, Craig McLean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article develops a concept that originated in environmental risk decision making, and investigates whether the Precautionary Principle (PP) may be usefully deployed by policymakers in the realm of foreign and defence matters. Drawing on the literature on precaution in the environmental arena, and in its weaker form, we develop an operational model of the PP, which has four main characteristics: an acceptance of the limits of knowledge on a given issue; an openness to alternative solutions; proportionality of response; and reversing the onus of proof. It concludes that the Precautionary Principle is a more inclusive way of deliberating on decisions on war, and the model we propose might provide a useful guideline for policy-makers in today's uncertain world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-58
JournalMedicine, Conflict and Survival
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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