Practice Relating to Rule 45. Causing Serious Damage to the Natural Environment
Section B. Environmental modification techniques
Germany’s Military Manual (1992) states:
401. It is particularly prohibited to employ means or methods which are intended or of a nature … to cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment.
403. “Widespread”, “long-term” and “severe” damage to the natural environment is a major interference with human life or natural resources which considerably exceeds the battlefield damage to be regularly expected in a war. Damage to the natural environment by means of warfare (Art. 35 para 3, 55 para 1 [of the 1977 Additional Protocol I]) and severe manipulation of the environment as a weapon (ENMOD) are likewise prohibited.
In its memorandum annexed to the ratification instrument of the 1976 ENMOD Convention, the Government of Germany declared that the terms “widespread”, “long-term” and “severe” were necessary to clarify the extent of the prohibition. It also underlined that only those significant cases of environmental damage or cases of deliberate attack on the environment should be covered by the relevant prohibitions.
As to the non-inclusion of a norm protecting the environment from the harmful effects caused by attacks against dams, dykes or nuclear power plants, the same memorandum stressed that the fact that such a norm was not included did not imply that these attacks were lawful under international law.