Yugoslavia, Federal Republic of
Practice Relating to Rule 44. Due Regard for the Natural Environment in Military Operations
Section B. The precautionary principle
On 14 August 2000, KFOR troops assisted UNMIK and UNMIK-Police in taking control of a lead-smelting plant in Zvecan, part of the Trepca mining complex in northern Kosovo. As a justification for the military action, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Kosovo explained that the Zvecan plant had been producing unacceptable levels of air pollution and therefore presented a serious threat to public health.
In a press conference at the UN Headquarters, the chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to the UN said that the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia rejected the Special Representative’s claim that KFOR was acting to prevent lead pollution. He maintained that daily air measurements corresponded to Yugoslav government regulations, adding that, even if high air pollution had been the problem, “it was not sufficient to justify such a crude use of military force”.