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On the research project: "Natural Hazards in the Mountain Environment: Risk Management and Responsibility"

The enthusiasm for nature is bringing more and more people closer to the mountains. Even though this trend is very much to welcome, it also leads to an increase in alpine accidents. Complex criminal liability issues arise, mostly due to the unpredictability of nature and the tendency to disregard own mistakes and to blame other people. The research project is devoted to the legal assessment of such liability issues, with interdisciplinary and empirical research helping to bridge the gap between nature and law.

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In particular, the project aims to explore how the residual risk inherent in the nature as well as the lack of legally binding precautionary norms can be better dealt with. Furthermore, alpine accidents happen often in the framework of a close offender-victim interaction, which requires the role of the victim to be included in the criminal law assessment. Overall goal is to more fairly separate third-party liability and self-responsibility. As Italian criminal law is still dominated by a paternalistic attitude towards the idea of self-responsibility, the projects will comparatively analyse other legal systems too, such as the more liberal Austrian or German regulations.

The projects provides also for a natural and social sciences empirical analysis on risk perception and psychological decision-making processes in the alpine environment. Such quantitative and qualitative studies are to be incorporated into the legal assessment and will critically contribute to a more fair and balanced consideration of the analysed liability issues, considering the actual circumstances occurring in the mountain environment.

The project findings, also via the contribution of prestigious technical partners, are expected to provide important stimuli for the scientific debate in the legal, social and natural sciences. In addition, the project aims to develop guidelines and good practices to be implemented beyond this specific project. The ultimate aim is to promote an appropriate risk culture among the population, enhancing everybody’s awareness and safety in the mountains.

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