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the principle of proportionality

This first category includes both substantive principles, such as the principles of no harm and prevention and the precautionary principle (or approach), as well as some procedural principles, such as the principles of co-operation, notification and/or consultation, the requirement to conduct an environmental impact assessment and the principle of prior informed consent. These principles are unique in that they are applicable to all States in much the same way. As such, they are not intended to introduce any formal differentiation among States or among the many sectors of human activity. In practice, the degree of development of a given State or its financial and technological position may be taken into account to some extent. Yet, the purpose of these principles is not to take such considerations (or other considerations of distributive justice) into account. The expression in international environmental law of these other considerations is channelled through a number of principles, such as the polluter-pays principle, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, the principle of participation and the principle of inter-generational equity, as well as concepts, such as those of sustainable development, common area, common heritage of mankind or common concern of mankind. The practical objective of these principles and concepts is to regulate access to certain resources or to distribute, among States and among different sectors of human activity, the burden of managing certain environmental problems. The latter distinction is, in our view, the most useful one to understand the way in which the principles and concepts that will be analysed in the next paragraphs shape modern international environmental law. It relies on the analytical distinctions made above, as otherwise it would not be possible to distinguish concepts and principles or to understand their operation or legal grounding. Figure 3.1 provides an overview of the conceptual matrix of international environmental law seen from this fourth standpoint. In what follows, our analysis will be organised around the two main ideas underlying international environmental law, namely the need to prevent environmental harm while striking a satisfactory balance among the different considerations at play.