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The precaution controversy: an analysis through the lens of Ulrich Beck and Michel Foucault

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 3 2016
Trefwoorden Precautionary principle, risk society, governmentality, risk governance, environmental law
Auteurs Tobias Arnoldussen
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    According to the precautionary principle lack of scientific evidence for the existence of a certain (environmental) risk should not be a reason not to take preventative policy measures. The precautionary principle had a stormy career in International environmental law and made its mark on many treaties, including the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). However it remains controversial. Proponents see it as the necessary legal curb to keep the dangerous tendencies of industrial production and technology in check. Opponents regard it with suspicion. They fear it will lead to a decrease in freedom and fear the powers to intervene that it grants the state. In this article the principle is reviewed from the perspectives of Ulrich Beck’s ‘reflexive modernisation’ and Michel Foucault’s notion of governmentality. It is argued that from Beck’s perspective the precautionary principle is the result of a learning process in which mankind gradually comes to adopt a reflexive attitude to the risks modernity has given rise to. It represents the wish to devise more inclusive and democratic policies on risks and environmental hazards. From the perspective of Michel Foucault however, the principle is part and parcel of neo-liberal tendencies of responsibilisation. Risk management and prudency are devolved to the public in an attempt to minimise risk taking, while at the same time optimising production. Moreover, it grants legitimacy to state intervention if the public does not live up to the responsibilities foisted on it. Both perspectives are at odds, but represent different sides of the same coin and might learn from each other concerns.


Tobias Arnoldussen
Tobias Arnoldussen is a socio-legal scholar affiliated with the University of Amsterdam Law School and the PPLE honours college. Next to lecturing on a variety of subjects, he focusses on interdisciplinary legal research into the possibilities of law to deal with contemporary social problems.
Artikel

Tenant vs. owner: deriving access to justice from the right to housing

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 3 2015
Trefwoorden tenants’ rights, adequate housing, discrimination, effectiveness of law
Auteurs Nico Moons
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The right to adequate housing has since long been established in international and European human rights law and has been (constitutionally) incorporated into many domestic legal systems. This contribution focuses on the extent to which this fundamental right influences rental law and the horizontal relationship between tenant and landlord and how it contributes to the tenant’s access to justice. The right to housing certainly accounts for tenant’s rights, but since international and European human rights law evidently centres around state obligations, any possible impact on the position of tenants remains indirect. This is of course different on the national plane. In Belgium, the constitutional right to housing has been implemented through regional Housing Codes, complementing private law measures and creating additional protection to tenants. Nonetheless, many challenges still remain in increasing access to justice for tenants, both top-down and bottom-up: lack of knowledge and complexity of law, imbalance in power and dependency, discrimination, etc.


Nico Moons
Nico Moons is a PhD student at the Faculty of Law of the University of Antwerp (research group Government & Law). His research topic involves the effectiveness of the right to adequate housing. Previously, he has worked at the Council for Alien Law Litigation.
Artikel

The preliminary reference procedure: challenge or opportunity?

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 3 2015
Trefwoorden preliminary reference procedure, empowerment, EU law, Court of Justice EU
Auteurs Jos Hoevenaars
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This contribution approaches the theme of access to justice from an EU law perspective and deals with the question: to what extent can the preliminary reference procedure serve as an empowering tool for individuals and civil society? The first part of the contribution deals with the structure of the EU legal system and the theoretically empowering function of preliminary references. Based on interviews with litigants and their counsellors, the second part deals with this notion from a sociological and empirical perspective. The analysis reveals the practical obstacles to realizing ones rights by preliminary references, and thus nuances the empowerment thesis found both among legal- and political sciences theories as well as in the legitimating rhetoric by propagators of the EU legal system.


Jos Hoevenaars
Jos Hoevenaars holds a Master’s degree in Sociology from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Institute for Sociology of Law/Centre for Migration Law of the Radboud University of Nijmegen. In his research, he studies individual litigation in the European legal system, with a specific focus on the preliminary reference procedure.
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