Developments in the Law of Environmental Reparations: A Case Study of the UN Compensation Commission
Environmental Protection and Transitions from Conflict to Peace: Clarifying Norms, Principles and Practices (C. Stahn, J. Iverson, & J. Easterday, eds., Oxford University Press 2017)
43 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2019
Date Written: 2017
The United Nations 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 1990–91 Gulf War to evict Iraq from Kuwait was a public spectacle of intentional and collateral environmental damage. It was followed by the UNCC’s more discreet 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 programme advanced international law most significantly by serving notice that environmental damage caused in relation to an armed conflict can be a culpable offence. In 1995, it was said that environment is a new concept and that ‘new’ environmental delicts will be subject to the Nuremberg defendants’ claim that they are ex post facto and therefore illegitimate. Participants in conflicts today cannot make that claim.
Keywords: environmental protection, IHL, law of armed conflict, reparations, international courts, reparations, compensation, environmental liability
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation