International environmental law and naval war : the effect of marine safety and pollution conventions during international armed conflict
The cornerstone of modern International Environmental Law is the prohibition of transfrontier pollution, according to which States have the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States, or of areas beyond national jurisdiction. In addition, there is now a substantial body of international treaties laying down detailed regimes for various environmental sectors. Recent international conflicts have raised fundamental questions about the relationship between International Environmental Law and armed conflict. The notion that the rules of general International Environmental Law continue to apply during armed conflict is now well accepted. But the principles which are usually cited, remain at a very high level of abstraction. This thesis examines the extent to which international law has developed more detailed rules to protect the environment in international armed conflict. After a discussion of the main legal issues, the thesis concentrates on the marine environment, examining the relationship between naval warfare on the one hand, and multilateral environmental treaties on marine safety and prevention of marine pollution on the other. It concludes that the majority of these treaties do not apply during armed conflict, either because war damage is expressly excluded, or because the treaties do not apply to warships. As for the treaties that are in principle applicable during armed conflict, the analysis shows that, under international law, belligerent and neutral States have the legal right to suspend those treaties, wholly or partially. Finally, the author concludes that very few of the treaties considered take the new law of armed conflict into account, and that there remains a need for more detailed rules on environmental standards for military operations.