Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law


Buds to Blossom Later

The Precautionary Principle, Environmental Impact Assessment and Intergenerational Equity in the Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Project Case and Thereafter

Keywords ICJ, Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros judgment, intergenerational equity, international environmental law, precautionary principle
Authors Boldizsár Nagy
Author's information

Boldizsár Nagy
Boldizsár Nagy: associate professor of law, Central European University, Vienna; counsel of Hungary at the ICJ during the Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros litigation.
  • Abstract

      Why did the ICJ fail to apply the precautionary principle, the duty to conduct environmental impact assessment and the respect for intergenerational equity in the Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Project Case in 1997? Why and how has it circumvented these concepts/principles then, most of which later emerged in its subsequent jurisprudence – that is the central question of this article. It reviews the international legal status of these concepts before the judgment was adopted in 1997, the arguments of the parties in the written and oral pleadings referring (or not) to these concepts and the “afterlife” of the three concepts/principles, showing that in the 25 years after the judgment environmental impact assessment became a firmly established international legal obligation, the precautionary principle exerts stronger influence but is still somewhat debated as to its precise content, especially outside the EU and intergenerational equity (fairness to future generations) has remained a guiding principle upon which no direct claim may be based, but that may change soon in light of the climate litigation reviewed. The hardly visible undercurrent of the text suggests that had these concepts/principles been adopted by the international community by 1997, the ICJ could have reached a different conclusion. But time was not ripe for that in 1997.

Please sign in to access the article

Did you receive an activation code but no access yet? Please activate your code here.

Forgot your password? Request new password.

Purchase access

You can purchase online access to this article. You will receive 24 hrs access @ € 17,50 (excl. VAT).

24 hrs access € 17,50 (excl. VAT)

Activate your code

If you have an access code, please activate it here.