Practice Relating to Rule 45. Causing Serious Damage to the Natural Environment
Ukraine’s IHL Manual (2004) states:
1.3.1. Prohibitions and limitations on the choice of methods and means of warfare for the belligerents are set forth in order to avoid [the] …infliction of severe and long-term damage to the natural environment related to warfare.
1.3.3. The following means of warfare are prohibited:
- influencing the environment so as to cause long-term severe damage.
Under Ukraine’s Criminal Code (2001), “ecocide”, namely “mass destruction of flora and fauna, poisoning of air or water resources, and any other acts that may cause an ecological disaster”, constitutes a criminal offence.
In its written statement submitted to the ICJ in the Nuclear Weapons (WHO) case
in 1994, Ukraine stated that it was “deeply convinced that, in view of the health and environmental effects, the use of nuclear weapons by a State in war or other armed conflict would be a breach of its obligation under international law”.
In 1992, during a debate in the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly on the protection of the environment in times of armed conflict, Ukraine qualified the release of large quantities of oil into the sea and the setting alight of numerous well-heads as a “clear illustration of the hostile use of environmental modification techniques in contravention of international law”.