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The Rotterdam Convention on Hazardous Chemicals

For example, Article 193 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (‘UNCLOS’) 30 provides that ‘States have the sovereign right to exploit their natural resources pursuant to their environmental policies and in accordance with their duty to protect and preserve the marine environment’. This provision is preceded by a general obligation, under Article 192, to ‘protect and preserve the marine environment’, and followed by a more specific statement (Article 194(2)), which recalls the formulation of Principle 21 of the Stockholm Declaration. It is noteworthy that the ‘marine environment’ is not limited to the territory of States or to areas under their control31 but also includes common areas. Accordingly, measures must be taken to prevent, reduce or control the pollution of the marine environment arising from activities conducted in the ‘Area’, namely the seabed under the high seas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.32 Similarly, the exploitation of the living resources of the high seas must be in accordance with the requirements of conservation and management set out in Articles 116-20 of UNCLOS. Also, the preamble to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (‘UNFCCC’) 33 and Article 3 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (‘CBD’) 34 refer to the prevention principle in its expanded version introduced in the Stockholm Declaration and subsequently taken up by Principle 2 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. It is in this broad formulation that the prevention principle features in the decisions of international tribunals. As already noted, the transition from a treaty-based principle to a customary one became clear in 1996 when the ICJ, in its Advisory Opinion on the Legality of Nuclear Weapons, held that the prevention principle as enshrined in Principle 21 of the Stockholm Declaration and Principle 2 of the Rio Declaration was part of general international law: