Practice Relating to Rule 45. Causing Serious Damage to the Natural Environment
Section B. Environmental modification techniques
In 1991, in a note verbale to 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:
The existing 1977 [ENMOD Convention] was revealed as being painfully inadequate during the Gulf conflict. We find that the terms of the existing convention are so broad and vague as to be virtually impossible to enforce. We also find no provision for a mechanism capable of the investigation and settlement of any future disputes under the Convention. Furthermore, the Convention does not provide for advanced environmental scientific data to be made available to all States at the initial stages of crisis prevention.
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 1976 ENMOD Convention, the following principles of international law provide additional protection for the environment in times of armed conflict:
e) The 1977 Convention (ENMOD) prohibits States parties from engaging in military or any other hostile use of environmental modification techniques (i.e., any techniques for changing – through the deliberate manipulation of natural processes – the dynamics, composition or structure of earth, its biota, lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere, or of outer space) having widespread, long-lasting or severe effects as the means of destruction, damage or injury to any other State party.