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


Neil A. F. Popovic


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


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.


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