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  • Author: Britta Sjostedt, Anne Dienelt
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Institution: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: n 2011, the UN International Law Commission (ILC) took up the topic Protection of the Environment in Relation to Armed Conflicts.1 The decision was triggered by a joint report issued by the UN Environment Programme and the Environmental Law Institute in 2009 recommending the ILC to “[...] examine the existing international law for protecting the environment during armed conflicts [...] [including] how it can be clarified, codified and expanded [...]”.2 Since the inclusion of the item on the ILC’s agenda, the Commission has published five reports3 by the two special rapporteurs, Dr. Marie Jacobsson (2011-2016) and Dr. Marja Lehto (2017-). In 2019, the plenary adopted 28 Draft Principles on first reading.4 The ILC has touched on highly controversial issues such as reprisals,5 corporate liability,6 indigenous peoples’ rights,7 among others. Nevertheless, it was clear from the beginning that the ILC would not be able to exhaustively deal with the topic for two main reasons. First, the Commission has a limited mandate that is restricted to “[...] initiate studies and make recommendations for the purpose of [...] encouraging the progressive development of international law and its codification [...]”.8 Enhanced legal protection of the environment, as one of the purposes of the Draft Principles,9 must therefore be based on existing customary international law and its progressive development. The Commission decided to also include recommendations to account for the uncertain legal status of some of the Draft Principles.10 Second, some related issues touch upon controversial and political matters, as mentioned earlier. Consequently, the ILC has been reluctant to include some of these issues in its workflow.11 Therefore, the adoption of the Draft Principles should be regarded as a starting point for shaping and developing the legal framework for environmental protection in relation to armed conflicts. As a part of that process, Hamburg University and Lund University organized an international workshop in March 2019 in Hamburg. Several members of the ILC, including two special rapporteurs, academic legal experts, and practitioners, attended the workshop to discuss the Draft Principles. The discussion also focused on some issues not covered by the ILC, such as the implications for gender and climate security. The engaging dialogue in Hamburg has inspired the publication of this Special Issue of the Goettingen Journal of International Law (GoJIL) to ensure that the outcomes and ideas of the workshop reach a wider audience. It has also contributed to maintaining the momentum of this topical area of international law by inviting contributions from researchers not present during the workshop in Hamburg.12
  • Topic: Environment, International Law, Non State Actors
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Stavros-Evdokimos Pantazopoulos
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Institution: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: The paper examines the concept of belligerent reprisals and assesses the legality of attacking the environment by way of reprisals. The law of belligerent reprisals, which is linked to the principle of reciprocity, allows one belligerent State unlawfully injured by another to react by means of what under normal circumstances would constitute a violation of the jus in bello, so as to induce the violating State to comply with the law. The instances of lawful recourse to reprisals have been considerably limited, since their application is either explicitly prohibited against certain protected persons and objects, including against the natural environment, or is subject to stringent conditions according to customary International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Despite its narrowing scope, the doctrine of reprisals remains a valid concept under the existing legal framework. For one, the state of affairs under customary international law with respect to reprisals directed at civilian objects (including against parts of the environment), subject to certain rigorous conditions, remains unclear. To complicate matters even further, any proposition on the status of reprisals in the context of a non-international armed conflict (NIAC) is shrouded in controversy, as there is no relevant treaty provision. In this regard, the present author endorses the approach espoused in the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Study on Customary IHL, namely to altogether prohibit resort to reprisals in the context of a NIAC. Turning to the status of reprisals against the natural environment under customary IHL, it is argued that a prohibition of attacks against the natural environment by way of reprisals is in the process of formation with respect to the use of weapons other than nuclear ones. All things considered, the International Law Commission (ILC) was confronted with an uncomfortable situation in the context of its work on the ‘Protection of the Environment in Relation to Armed Conflicts’. By sticking to the verbatim reproduction of Article 55(2) of Additional Protocol I, the ILC chose the proper course of action, since any other formulation would not only undercut a significant treaty provision, but might also result in the normative standard of conduct being lowered.
  • Topic: Environment, International Law, Humanitarian Intervention, Red Cross
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Daniella Dam-de Jong, Saskia Wolters
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Institution: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: Corporate activities take place in a variety of social contexts, including in countries affected by armed conflict. Whether corporations are physically present in these regions or merely do business with partners from conflict zones, there is an increased risk that their activities contribute to egregious human rights abuses or serious environmental harm. This is especially so for corporations active in or relying on the extractives sector. It is against this background that the ILC included two principles addressing corporate responsibility for environmental harm in its Draft Principles on the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflict. Both principles explicitly call on the home States of these corporations to give effect to their complementary role in regulating and enforcing corporate social responsibility. Draft Principle 10 addresses the responsibility of home States to regulate multinational corporations under the heading of “corporate due diligence”, while Draft Principle 11 addresses the responsibility of home States to hold multinational corporations liable for environmental damage caused in conflict zones. The current contribution engages with the potential normative foundations underpinning extraterritorial responsibilities for the home States of multinational corporations with respect to the prevention and remediation of environmental harm in conflict zones, focusing on international humanitarian law and international human rights law. It concludes that the Draft Principles are certainly indicative of the direction in which the law is evolving, but that no firm obligations beyond treaty law can be discerned as of yet. It was therefore a wise decision to phrase the respective Draft Principles as recommendations instead of obligations. At the same time, there are sufficient indications to conclude that it seems a matter of time before it is accepted that States have distinct obligations under customary international law for which their responsibility may be engaged. It is argued that the ILC Draft Principles provide an important impetus to these developments, not in the least because they provide a reference to States regarding the state-of-the-art and guidance for future action.
  • Topic: International Law, Conflict, Multinational Corporations
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Marie Davoise
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Institution: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: In July 2019, the International Law Commission (ILC) provisionally adopted, on first reading, a series of draft principles on the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflict (the Draft Principles). The role of businesses in armed conflict is addressed in Draft Principle 10 and Draft Principle 11. The latter, in particular, requires States to implement appropriate measures to ensure that corporations operating in or from their territories can be held accountable for environmental harm in the context of armed conflict. The inclusion of those two Draft Principles reflects increasingly vocal calls for corporate accountability, which has been the focus of the growing field of Business and Human Rights (BHR), an umbrella term encompassing a variety of legal regimes from tort law to criminal law. This contribution will look at the link between businesses, the environment, and armed conflict. Using the newly adopted Draft Principle 11 as a starting point, it explores three major liability regimes through which businesses could be held accountable for damage to the environment in armed conflict: State responsibility, international criminal law, and transnational tort litigation. Using case studies, the article discusses some of the challenges associated with each of those regimes, before concluding that the cross-fertilization phenomenon observed in this article (between public/private law, domestic/international level, and across various jurisdictions) is making BHR an increasingly salient discipline and useful tool in the fight against impunity for corporate environmental harm in armed conflict.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Law, Business , Conflict
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Karen Hulme
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Institution: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: Environmental protection is not specifically included in treaty law relating to State obligations during situations of occupation. While clearly not of the same scale as damage caused to the environment during armed conflict, damage caused during occupation is often similar in nature – largely due to those who seek to exploit any governance vacuum and a failure to restore damaged environments. What can human rights offer in helping to protect the environment during occupations? What protection can be offered by an analysis of environmental human rights law?
  • Topic: Environment, Human Rights, Governance, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Dieter Fleck
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Institution: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: The existing treaty law on the protection of the natural environment during armed conflicts is less than adequate. Treaty provisions relating to international armed conflicts are limited to the prohibition of damage of an extreme kind and scale that has not occurred so far and may hardly be expected from the conduct of hostilities unless nuclear weapons would be used. Even in such a scenario, States possessing nuclear weapons have explicitly objected to the applicability of that treaty law. For internal wars, no pertinent treaty provisions exist in the law of armed conflict. Yet multilateral environmental agreements concluded in peacetime stand as an alternative approach to enhance environmental protection during war. As a civilian object, the environment may not be targeted nor attacked in an armed conflict, but this does not exclude collateral damage, nor does this principle as such offer specific standards for proportionality in attacks. In an effort to close these apparent gaps of treaty law, the present contribution looks into other sources of international law that could be used. In this context, the author revisits the role of the famous Martens Clause in the interplay of international humanitarian law, international environmental law, and human rights law. The role of the Clause in closing gaps caused by the indeterminacy of treaty law is reviewed and customary rules, general principles, and best practices are considered to this effect. For the protection of the natural environment during armed conflicts, the Martens Clause may, indeed, be used as a door opener to facilitate the creation and application of uncodified principles and rules. Particular standards for proportionality in attacks can be derived from the Martens Clause. Pertinent soft law instruments need to be developed in international practical cooperation and by academia. Yet it deserves further study to explore whether, and to what extent, the Martens Clause, which was adopted in the law of armed conflict, may also apply in post-conflict peacebuilding as a case of interaction between the jus in bello and the jus post bellum, at least as far as the protection of the natural environment is concerned.
  • Topic: International Law, Treaties and Agreements, Humanitarian Intervention, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael Bothe
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Institution: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: The protection of the environment in relation to armed conflict, in particular during armed conflict is a complex problem as it involves at least two different fields of international law, the law of armed conflict (international humanitarian law) and international environmental law. Their mutual relationship is a delicate issue. International humanitarian law is not necessarily lex specialis. Three principles deserve particular attention in this connection: as to general international environmental law, the principle of prevention and the precautionary principle, as to international humanitarian law the duty to take precautions. The terms prevention and precaution are used in different contexts in environmental law (both national and international) and in the law of armed conflict. The duty, imposed by international humanitarian law, to take precautions has much in common with, but must be distinguished from, the precautionary approach of general environmental law. This paper shows what these principles mean and how they relate to each other. It answers the question to what extent the rules based on these concepts are effective in restraining environmental damage being caused by military activities. The application of these principles in peace and war serves intergenerational equity and is thus an important element of sustainable development.
  • Topic: Environment, International Law, Humanitarian Intervention, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Monika Subritzky
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Institution: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: Nuclear weapons present a unique problem and risk to global safety and security. The destructive capability of nuclear weapons, which extends beyond intended targets, is what sets these weapons apart from all else; they are sui generis. These weapons are indiscriminate in both their scale of destruction, which cannot be said to involve proportionate force, and in their residual effects of radioactive fallout, which some scholars have equated to the effect of a poisoned weapon.1 The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was adopted at the United Nations Headquarters on 7 July 2017, with 122 States voting in favour of the final draft, one voting against, and one abstaining.2 As of July 2019, the Treaty has twenty-three parties and seventy signatories.3 It is currently not in force as it requires ratification by a minimum of fifty States in order to come into effect.4 The core prohibitions of the Treaty are set out in its first Article, in which State parties agree to never develop, acquire, use or threaten to use, transfer, or stockpile nuclear weapons. What the Treaty does not do, however, is directly eliminate any nuclear weapons; a challenging task in itself considering that none of the current possessors of nuclear weapons even partook in the negotiation of the Treaty. State parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) have obligations under Article VI to undertake negotiations on effective measures leading to disarmament.5 Against a backdrop of little discernible progress on the implementation of Article VI over the last fifty years, Ireland, on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, submitted a Working Paper outlining possible pathways to nuclear disarmament in an effort to fulfil the provisions of Article VI.6 These pathways were debated in 2016 during the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG), which was set up for the purpose of providing a forum for discussion regarding advancing nuclear disarmament. The argument of this paper is that the TPNW has the potential to function radically as a disarmament mechanism. At first glance, the Treaty appears to fit within the second pathway outlined in the Irish Working Paper, effectively functioning as a simple Ban Treaty. However, a careful analysis reveals that it more neatly fits into the third pathway – a framework arrangement. It is this characteristic which makes the TPNW a novel and profound instrument as well as a potential foundational solution to the problem of nuclear weapons. The core section of the paper is divided into two parts. The first delves into the three main pathways discussed in the Irish Working Paper and analyzes how well each of the proposals can address the problem of achieving nuclear disarmament. As suggested by Brazil in the OEWG debates in 2016, three categories are key in establishing the degree to which each pathway can achieve progress in achieving nuclear disarmament – universality, effectiveness, and political viability.7 All nuclear disarmament treaties must intend to be universal in light of the humanitarian consequences of their usage. However, a disarmament treaty can be successful with universality as one of its objectives, rather than a precondition. Widespread support for a treaty also lends to its effectiveness, as do mechanisms for verification and enforcement.8 The political viability of a treaty is key as, without the willing participation of governments, proposals can easily be discarded. The analysis is centred on these categories. The second core part of the paper analyzes the structure of the TPNW with a focus on Articles 4 and 8. It demonstrates that the TPNW surreptitiously functions as a framework agreement and that this attribute has enormous value, both in practice and in shaping norms. The flexibility and adaptability of framework agreements is what makes them the most suitable mechanisms for nuclear disarmament.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Military Strategy, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Deepak Mawar
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Institution: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: The article analyzes the International Court of Justice and its approach to judicial decision-making. By investigating the Court’s jurisprudence over its seventy years of activity, the article seeks to outline, that if given the choice, the ICJ tends to prioritize judicial restraint over judicial activism. In fact, the Court maintains a strict adherence to judicial restraint, which stems from a fear of losing its legitimacy when facing the issue of consent-based jurisdiction. The article purports that although judicial restraint is an important facet of sound judicial decision-making, the ICJ should not be so reluctant to adopt judicial activism when it is suitable to utilize such an approach. Such a position is strengthened when analyzing the criticisms made of judgments delivered by the Court, which fail to serve the international community beneficially.
  • Topic: International Law, International Court of Justice (ICJ)
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Julia Bialek
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Institution: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: Infringements of human rights through the actions of transnational corporations are common in our globalizing world. While the international community has undertaken numerous attempts to hold private corporations responsible for their actions, only soft law instruments govern this area of public international law. Only recently, a first draft was released for a Legally Binding Instrument to Regulate, in International Human Rights Law, the Activities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises, also known as the Zero Draft. This article argues that the Zero Draft, while based on contemporary international law, represents a positive first step in the treaty-making process, but it still needs specification and clarification in order to close the gap in human rights protection effectively. First outlining the need for a closure of the gap in human rights protection, this article then closely examines the content of the Zero Draft. To that end, an in-depth analysis of the core provisions of the Draft is offered, especially focusing on the rights of victims, the prevention of human rights infringements, and corporate liability. Furthermore, this article analyzes current State practice and the expectations of the international community towards a legally binding instrument on the topic of business and human rights. Significantly, this article also compares the Zero Draft to existing soft law and previous recommendations on how to close the gap in a binding manner. Finally, the article concludes that, by indirectly holding companies accountable without depriving States of their sovereign power over their companies, the Zero Draft has the potential to be implemented as a future Treaty on Business and Human Rights.
  • Topic: Globalization, Human Rights, Treaties and Agreements, transnationalism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus