Defining the ‘Environment’ and the Principle of Environmental Integrity
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND TRANSITIONS FROM CONFLICT TO PEACE: CLARIFYING NORMS, PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES (C. Stahn, J. Iverson, & J. Easterday, eds., Oxford University Press 2017).
36 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2019
Date Written: 2017
As a conflict draws to a close, a whole suite of institutions and processes engage with environmental remediation, reconstruction, and reparations, when they are authorized and compelled to do so by law. Defining what we mean by ‘the environment’ as an object of protection in the postconflict period (e.g. in reparations proceedings) is a starting point for a discussion of what this law is and how it should develop. There is no commonly agreed definition of ‘environment’ in international law, or in the sub-field of the LOAC. If, on investigation, a precise definition of ‘environment’ is difficult, dangerous, and ultimately unhelpful, a guiding principle would be useful. The current treaty regime does not adequately address the scope or magnitude of the environment which concerns the international community. A new approach can evaluate damage to the environment in terms of ‘environmental integrity’ rather than in the narrow terms considered sufficient in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The principle of ‘environmental integrity’ expresses a complex set of concepts that describe a healthy natural system that can support essential processes.
Keywords: armed conflict, PERAC, environmental protection, IHL
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