Practice Relating to Rule 44. Due Regard for the Natural Environment in Military Operations
In December 1991, during a parliamentary debate on the consequences of the Gulf War, a member of the German Parliament stated:
The immediate improvement of international law providing protection from environment-destructive warfare is necessary. This implies … the ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions without reservations by all NATO partners, including the Federal Republic of Germany [and] a general priority to be given to the fight against ecological damage over military secrecy in the case of armed conflict … In addition, a review is required of the existing priority of military necessity for specific acts of warfare to be legitimate over ecological needs – a very central point; furthermore, the general prohibition of the use of environmental destruction as a weapon is necessary.
This view was supported by another parliamentary group; the other parliamentary groups neither supported nor rejected it.
During the same debate, a member of the parliamentary group which had supported the first speaker stated that, in the view of her group,
it is inevitable to take steps in order to give more effectiveness and respect to international law in force and to enable also the UN to prevent and punish warfare against the environment as well as violations of international conventions for the protection of the environment.
In 1991, the President of Germany, commenting on the effect on the environment of Iraqi means and methods of warfare, stated: “We are witnesses to an unprecedented disregard for the natural environment.”
The German Chancellor considered this particular type of warfare as falling within possible “crimes against the environment”.