Category Archives: Armed Conflict

Humanitarian Law and the Environment (M. N. Schmitt)

Author(s)

Michael N. Schmitt

Keywords

war crime, environmental damage, environmental degradation, international humanitarian law, environmental consequences of warfare, International Criminal Court, military operations, environmental safeguarding, weapons, treaty law

Excerpt

“Introduction

When the Rome Conference adopted the Statue of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in July 1998, it included as a war crime the causation of “widespread, long term and severe damage to the natural environment.” Such “greening” of international humanitarian law promises heightened sensitivity to the environmental consequences of warfare as we enter the new millennium. The ICC Statue provision, however, is but the most recent example of a growing environmental consciousness vis-a-vis military operations that first began to surface over two decades ago.

This article catalogues those aspects of international humanitarian law that safeguard the environment during armed conflict: it is intended primarily as a primer for those new to the subject. As will become apparent, humanitarian law has focused scant attention directly on the environment. Instead, it relies on conventional and customary humanitarian law that has only recent been recognized as having environmental consequence for the bulk of its environmental play. Following a brief review of the historical context from which the law emerged, discussion turns to four types of relevant norms: 1) specific environmental provisions in humanitarian law; 2) limits on the use of particular weapons capable of causing environmental damage; 3) non-environment specific treaty law which may safeguard the environment in certain circumstances; and 4) customary humanitarian law offering environmental protection. Although the article’s tenor is primarily descriptive, in order to stimulate further reflection, the final section provides an abridged assessment of the applicable normative environment; it suggests that while the environment component of international law governing warfare is not vacuous, there is certainly room for improvement.” (265-6)

Citation

(2000) 28 Denver Journal of International Law and Policy 3 pp. 265-323

Paper

Humanitarian Law and the Environment

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Humanitarian Law, Protection of the Environment, and Human Rights (N.A.F. Popovic)

Author(s)

Neil A. F. Popovic

Keywords

Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law, Environmental Destruction, Armed Conflict

Excerpt

Notwithstanding the relevance of international human rights to wartime environmental destruction, the international community tends to deal with war-related environmental harm through the modalities of humanitarian law. Although humanitarian law extensively regulates the conduct of war, that framework has neither proven effective in dealing with the environmental impact of war, nor does it provide remedies for affected people.

This comment proposes that increased accessibility of pertinent procedures, including human rights procedures, could provide useful mechanisms for addressing the environmental impact of armed conflict. Part II of the comment discusses the nature and extent of environmental problems associated with armed conflict. Part III discusses relevant legal principles and their limitations in relieving the environmental toll of war. Part IV presents several proposals for enhancing environmental protection in armed conflict. Part V concludes that it is necessary to expand the traditional scope of procedural and substantive mechanisms in order to ensure effective dealing with the environmental impact of war and the availability of remedies for the affected people.

Citation

(1995-6) 8 Georgetown International Environmental Law Review 67-133

Paper

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Report on UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (Editorial)

Keywords

Human rights;Armed conflict; Israel ; Occupied Palestinian Territories

Abstract

Discusses the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict between December 27, 2009 and January 18, 2010 . Examines: (1) early issues such as the appointees to the Mission, the mandate, and the failure of efforts to obtain the cooperation of the Government of Israel; (2) the methodology employed including as regards the temporal scope of the events, the historical context, the normative framework, the international human rights compliance of the parties, and the purpose of the public hearings; and (3) the specific facts and issues investigated by the Mission, from the respective positions of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel.

Citation

(2010) 2 European Human Rights Law Review 125-148

Editorial

Report on UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict

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International Norms Against Chemical and Biological Warfare (J.P. Zanders)

Author

Jean Pascal Zanders

Keywords

CBW, unnecessary suffering, international norms, security

Abstract

Chemical and biological weapons (CBW) bear a moral opprobrium as they are widely viewed as indiscriminate agents of unnecessary suffering. This immorality is often presented as an article of faith. However, the belief system cannot be the sole legal, political and social reality, as otherwise CBW should logically have been banished a long time ago. While there is a long history of legal and social constraints against these weapons, such constraints are never absolute. Three aspects that have affected the application of the norm are: the lack of perceived equality between warring parties, competing legal doctrines, and the impact of technological innovation on norms. Since the social context in which the norms are developed and applied changes continually, it becomes clear that these norms must be continuously redefined in order to remain relevant. The historical analysis also shows that existing international norms have never placed the professional scientists engaging in CBW-related activities in either a moral or an ethical vacuum. Indeed, activities permitted to states under international law and custom have provided ample justification for scientists to work on CBW in support of national security. Until today, national security considerations place a great strain on the global disarmament treaties governing the development, possession and use of CBW.

Citation

(2003) 8 Journal of Conflict & Security Law 391

Paper

International Norms Against Chemical and Biological Warfare: An Ambiguous Legacy

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Legal Mechanisms for Addressing Wartime Damage to Tropical Forests (J.E. Austin & C.E. Bruch)

Author(s)

Jay E. Austin Carl E. Bruch

Keywords

International environmental law; international law of war; warfare; military activities; protected areas; tropical forests

Abstract

The tactics of war have profound impacts on tropical forest ecosystems, and modern weapons technologies have greatly increased their destructive potential. Some legal protection is afforded by customary international law, and the international community responded to the Vietnam War by adopting, inter alia, the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions and the 1976 Environmental Modification Convention, which prohibit “long-term” (or “long-lasting”), “widespread,” and “severe” environmental damage. Nevertheless, many regard these and other existing conventions as inadequate, especially as applied to internal conflicts. More recently, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature-World Conservation Union (IUCN) put forth a Draft Convention on the Prohibition of Hostile Military Activities in Internationally Protected Areas. This paper analyzes the IUCN Draft Convention-particularly issues of prior designation of protected areas, waiver of protection, and monitoring and enforcement-and compares it to other relevant area-based treaties, such as the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property and the 1972 World Heritage Convention. The paper also highlights other recent legal developments that may help prevent, remediate, or punish wartime damage to tropical forests, such as the nascent International Criminal Court; liability mechanisms for providing compensation for wartime damage; environmental guidelines for military, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations; import bans and trade embargoes; and a proposed no-fault remediation fund.

Citation

(2003) 16 Journal of Sustainable Forestry 161-192

Paper

Legal Mechanisms for Addressing Wartime Damage to Tropical Forests

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