Category Archives: Warfare

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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Fuelling War: Natural Resources and Armed Conflicts (P. Le Billon)

Author

Philippe Le Billon

Keywords

Natural resources; economic development; social development; resource wealth; curse; resource exploitation; vulnerability; of resource-dependent countries

Abstract

A generous endowment of natural resources should favour rapid economic and social development. The experience of countries like Angola and Iraq, however, suggests that resource wealth often proves a curse rather than a blessing. Billions of dollars from resource exploitation benefit repressive regimes and rebel groups, at a massive cost for local populations. This Adelphi Paper analyses the economic and political vulnerability of resource-dependent countries; assesses how resources influence the likelihood and course of conflicts; and discusses current initiatives to improve resource governance in the interest of peace. It concludes that long-term stability in resource-exporting regions will depend on their developmental outcomes, and calls for a broad reform agenda prioritising the basic needs and security of local populations.

Citation

Philippe Le Billon, Fuelling War: Natural Resources and Armed Conflicts (Routledge, 2006)

Book

Fuelling War: Natural Resources and Armed Conflicts

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Natural Enemy, Natural Ally: Toward and Environmental History of War (R.P. Tucker)

Author

Richard P. Tucker

Keywords

War, environment, nature, environmental damage, military strategies, timber, disease, American Civil War

Abstract

How has war changed and damaged the environment? How has nature influenced war? As the first collection of essays on war and environmental history, Natural Enemy, Natural Ally heralds the advent of a major new field of study. Contributors to the volume explore the dynamic between war and the physical environment from a variety of provocative viewpoints. The subjects of their essays range from conflicts in pre-colonial India and early colonial South Africa to the U.S. Civil War and twentieth-century wars in Japan, Finland, and the Pacific Islands. Among the topics explored are:

* the ways in which landscape can influence military strategies;

* why the decisive battle of the American Civil War was fought;

* the impact of war and peace on timber resources;

* the spread of pests and disease in wartime.

Citation

Richard P. Tucker, Natural Enemy, Natural Ally: Toward and Environmental History of War (Oregon State University Press, 2004)

Book

Natural Enemy, Natural Ally: Toward and Environmental History of War

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The Continuing Risk of Nuclear War

Author

Ronald McCoy

Keywords

Civil nuclear power, international law, nuclear disarmament, nuclear proliferation, Nuclear Weapons Convention

Abstract

Climate change and nuclear war are currently the most dangerous challenges to human civilisation and survival. The effects of climate change are now sufficient to persuade many governments to take effective measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Today there are about 27,000 nuclear warheads, many at least ten times more powerful than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, and a meaningful medical response to a nuclear attack is impossible. Nevertheless, the threat of nuclear war does not raise public concern, and indeed the nuclear-weapon states are upgrading their capability. The only effective preventive measure is the abolition of nuclear weapons. Steps towards this include: a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, for the nuclear weapon states to observe their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to enter into force. The ultimate need is for a Nuclear Weapons Convention; International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War have launched an International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons (ICAN) to promote a NWC.

Citation

(2007) 23 Medicine, Conflict and Survival 259-266

Paper

The Continuing Risk of Nuclear War

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