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Humanitarian Intervention and Environmental Protection: The Effect of the Kosovo War on the Law of War

Aaron Schwabach

Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Columbia Journal of European Law, Vol. 6, 1999

Professor Schwabach explores the legality of the commencement and conduct of the 1999 war between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Yugoslavia in his article, Humanitarian Intervention and Environmental Protection: The Effect of the Kosovo War on the Law of War. The article describes international law as it existed before the war and examines resulting changes to the law.

The author first addresses the doctrine of humanitarian intervention: A state's right to forcibly intervene within the territory of another state to prevent genocide or similar catastrophic human rights violations. Prior to the Kosovo war, no such right clearly existed. Post-war actions and statements by the Security Council, International Court of Justice (ICJ), and U.N. Secretary-General, however, indicate a growing willingness on the part of the international legal community to tolerate humanitarian intervention.

The author next details the extent and nature of the emerging doctrine of humanitarian intervention with frequent reference to a report published by the Danish Institute of International Affairs (DUPI). The DUPI report suggests, and Professor Schwabach analyzes, four potential rules for the doctrine ranging from status quo to a state's discretionary right of intervention.

Finally, the author addresses the legality of acts committed during the war, particularly Yugoslavia's allegations of environmental damage from toxins released during NATO strikes against chemical facilities. Professor Schwabach describes the governing rules, focusing on Protocol I to the Geneva Convention of 1949, and uses standard legal construction to determine the provision's relevance to NATO actions. Professor Schwabach concludes that Protocol I focuses on protecting human life rather than the environment as a whole, but believes that changes in environmental awareness may have altered its application.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 21

Keywords: Kosovo, Yugoslavia, Europe, Eastern Europe, peace, security, environment, warfare, law of war, international law, humanitarian intervention, human rights, pollution, Geneva Conventions, NATO

JEL Classification: K32, K33

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Date posted: August 7, 2003  

Suggested Citation

Schwabach, Aaron, Humanitarian Intervention and Environmental Protection: The Effect of the Kosovo War on the Law of War. Columbia Journal of European Law, Vol. 6, 1999. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=412562

Contact Information

Aaron Schwabach (Contact Author)
Thomas Jefferson School of Law ( email )
1155 Island Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
United States
619-961-4304 (Phone)

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