Effectiveness of the Existing International Humanitarian Law Provisions in Protecting the Natural Environment During Internal Armed Conflicts
The environment is inherently at risk in any armed conflict and the natural environment is always a victim of wars. In order to properly protect the environment, the international community must explicitly recognize the civilian nature of the environment and bar all damages to it notwithstanding its extent, longevity and severity. The current study focuses on the environmental protection during armed conflicts. In World War I, parties employed the indiscriminate use of chemical weapons as a way of gaining military advantage over their enemies. The world responded by adopting the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and their destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention, CWC). Later on, the Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Use of Environmental Modification Techniques (ENMOD Convention) was adopted following the devastating effects of the use of herbicides in the war in Vietnam. There were also inclusions of protection for the natural environment in Protocol I of 8 June 1977 additional to the Geneva Conventions (Additional Protocol I). All these laws have been existing for a long period yet they have not been updated to include non-international armed conflict and the environment remains targeted even by states. The explanation for the lack of deterrence on state can best be explained by the primacy that the treaties put on the military advantage and the cumulative threshold of widespread, long-lasting and severe damage. States can satisfactorily claim that any part of the environment was a legitimate military target and therefore downplay any direct or indirect attack on it. This research looks at some of the steps that have recently been undertaken by the ICRC and the ILC and examines the adequacy of such steps including the relevance of military manuals and instructions.
Joharah M. Alkahtani, Effectiveness of the Existing International Humanitarian Law Provisions in Protecting the Natural Environment During Internal Armed Conflicts, (Jan. 2022) (SJD dissertation, Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University), https://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawdissertations/29/.
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