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An Old Debate Revisited: Applicability of Environmental Treaties in Times of International Armed Conflict Pursuant to the International Law Commission's ‘Draft Articles on the Effects of Armed Conflict on Treaties’


  • The article is based on a thesis submitted at the University of Iceland in late 2011 under the supervision of Dr Adalheidur Johannsdottir.


The law of war relating to the protection of the environment is ineffective and fragmented. This article argues that the application of international environmental law during such times could significantly reduce the environmental toll of armed conflict. The applicability of peacetime agreements between belligerent States has remained controversial for decades. In November 2011, the United Nations General Assembly's Legal Committee adopted the International Law Commission's ‘Draft Articles on the effects of armed conflict on treaties’. These contain a presumption of continuation for a number of subject matters, including environmental law. The contribution analyzes the systematic structure of the ILC Draft Articles in relation to the prevailing case law, State practice and doctrine and provides an interpretation. In a second step, subject matters containing an environmental notion are presented and discussed. It is concluded that although the Draft Articles represent an important milestone, further regulation of wartime environmental damage is needed.