Practice Relating to Rule 43. Application of General Principles on the Conduct of Hostilities to the Natural Environment
In 1991, during a debate in the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly on the protection of the environment in armed conflict, Austria stated, with respect to the damage caused by Iraq to the environment:
There could be no doubt whatsoever that those deliberate acts of environmental destruction flagrantly violated existing international law and could not, even in the most remote sense, be justified by military necessity … There could be no doubt as to the illegality of the acts committed by Iraq, entailing international responsibility of that State as well as personal criminal liability of those responsible for those acts.
In 1992, during a debate in the UN General Assembly on the environmental impact of the Gulf War, Austria stated that it was a “shortcoming” of the present legal regime that “the principle of proportionality between the military necessity of an action and its possible detrimental effects on the environment was usually applied in favour of military necessity”.