Developments in the Law of Environmental Reparations: A Case Study of the UN Compensation Commission
Carsten Stahn, Jens Iverson, & Jennifer Easterday, eds., Environmental Protection and Transitions from Conflict to Peace: Clarifying Norms, Principles and Practices (Oxford University Press, 2017 Forthcoming)
31 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2016
Date Written: June 29, 2016
The UN Compensation Commission (UNCC) is a unique model for liability and compensation of environmental damage in an international context, influencing both jus in bello and jus post bellum. The 1990-1991 Gulf War to evict Iraq from Kuwait was a public spectacle of environmental damage. It was followed by the UNCC’s legal process that catalogued, assessed and awarded money to pay to clean and repair the damaged soil, water, coastal ecosystems, and other harms. The UNCC’s contributions include integration of environmental law principles into the reparations process; use of advanced techniques for assessment of environmental damage; and use of a multilateral process in a way that balanced confidentiality and transparency. The UNCC environmental program advanced international law most significantly by serving notice that environmental damage caused in relation to an armed conflict can be a culpable offense. Finally, a great contribution of the UNCC environmental program, and its successors, will be the spotlight they shine on the often ignored devastation to the natural environment caused by armed conflict and its potential to lead us toward prevention of harm.
Keywords: armed conflict, UNCC, PERAC, environmental damage, jus post bellum
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