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date: 10 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Armed conflicts pose a threat to the natural environment, such as when hazardous substances are released as a result of attacks on industrial sites, or when biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons are used by the combatants. The international effort to protect better the natural environment from the ill-effects of armed conflict occurred in three phases: during the Vietnam War, during the Gulf War of 1990–91, and the adoption of the International Committee of the Red Cross’s Guidelines for Military Manuals and Instructions on the Protection of the Environment in Times of Armed Conflict. This chapter discusses the existing legal protection for the natural environment during armed conflict, first by considering the specific and general rules of international humanitarian law (IHL). It then examines some of the gaps and deficiencies in the law and presents possible remedies to strengthen the legal protection provided by IHL for the environment. It also focuses on multilateral environmental agreements that are applicable and not applicable during armed conflict, as well as multilateral agreements that are silent on the matter.

Keywords: natural environment, armed conflict, legal protection, international humanitarian law, multilateral agreements, Vietnam War, Gulf War, International Committee of the Red Cross

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