Practice Relating to Rule 45. Causing Serious Damage to the Natural Environment
Section A. Widespread, long-term and severe damage
In 1991, in a note verbale to the UN Secretary-General, Jordan requested the inclusion of the item “exploitation of the environment as a weapon in times of armed conflict and the taking of practical measures to prevent such exploitation” in the provisional agenda of the 46th Session of the UN General Assembly.
In an explanatory memorandum supporting its request Jordan stated:
In a world where all humanity is ecologically vulnerable, it has become evident that warfare is no longer a tenable policy option for civilized nations. It is common knowledge that the recent military conflict in the Gulf had an impact of tragic proportions on both the people of the region and the environment. Scientists have calculated that it will take decades to recover from the environmental damage resultant from the confrontation. This emphasizes the urgent necessity to prevent any further exploitation of the environment as a means of indiscriminate destruction. The environment must be taken into consideration from the initial stages of conflict decision-making by both politicians and military decision makers. In our approach to the next millennium, it is evident that closer cooperation between all nations is essential if we are to avoid further environmental destruction and conflict. All should realize that environmental degradation is not limited to the confines of any one nation State.
In 1992, in a memorandum annexed to a letter to the Chairman of the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly, Jordan and the United States noted that for those States party to the 1977 Additional Protocol I, the following principles of international law provide additional protection for the environment in times of armed conflict: “a) Article 55 of [the 1977 Additional Protocol I] requires States parties to take care in warfare to protect the natural environment against widespread, long-term and severe damage”.