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Environmental Protection in Armed Conflict: Filling the Gaps with Sustainable Development

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Recent years have witnessed growing concern over the ever more increasing urgent and pervasive global environmental problems. Environmental problems and challenges in relation to armed conflict are amongst them. Such environmental pressures can cause violent or armed conflict which in turn can cause devastating damage and destruction to the environment. This article explores the possibility of utilising the overarching concept of sustainable development and its relevant substantive principles to fill the gaps of environmental protection provided by international humanitarian law. The concept of sustainable development generally refers to development or the process of improving the quality of life of the present generation without compromising the future generations. This article thus reviews the limits of the protection of the environment during armed conflict within the current legal framework and suggests setting out a new, more comprehensive set of Environmental Rules based on the ‘Berlin Rules’ approach. It is argued that these proposed Rules, by comprehensively and clearly prescribing rights and duties in respect of the ecological impact of armed conflict including the integration of the concept of sustainable development, could not only mitigate the impact of conflict-related environmental damage on both the environment and the human population, it could further contribute to the development of international law and conflict-related environmental protection specifically.

Affiliations: 1: Lecturer in Law, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK Research Officer, Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment


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