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The Potential of Multilateral Environmental Agreements to Protect in relation to Armed Conflict
University of Geneva: International Law Commission Seminars (2013)
  • Britta Sjöstedt
This paper is provided for a seminar included in the UN International Law Commission (ILC) Seminars. The seminar deals with the important topic “Protection of the Environment in relation to Armed Conflict” that was put on the ILC’s current agenda of programme in May 2013. In this paper, I will share some of my comments on the new topic at ILC’s agenda. These focus on the potential of multilateral environmental agreements. The destructive activities taking place in relation to armed conflict can cause irreversible impacts on the environment. They can destruct important ecosystems, poison watercourses and extinct species. Keeping in mind the interconnected nature of the environment, damages to the environment can have unknown and unforeseeable global effects. Therefore, it is very important to protect the environment at all times – not just in peacetime, but also in times of extremities and chaos, when it is most likely for great and sudden environmental destruction to occur. MEAs have a unique technique to address environmental issues. Most MEAs use a so-called ‘framework approach’. This means that they phrase the provisions as aspirational and open-ended obligations. (Such obligations have a flexible wording and could state that state parties shall “endorse protection,” “take measures as far as possible” or adopt ‘best available practice’.) These obligations are developed in on-going process through institutions established under the MEAs. The institutions adopt decisions and recommendations on how to comply with these flexible standards in a certain context. They often endorse pragmatic and context-based solutions to achieve MEA objectives. The MEA institutions can instigate projects that can provide international assistance in form of equipment, training etc. MEAs often cooperate with each other, NGOs and international organisations to fulfil their objectives. In this way, MEAs offer an institutionalized way for states and international actors to cooperate to try to solve global environmental problems.
Publication Date
Summer July 23, 2013
Citation Information
Britta Sjöstedt. "The Potential of Multilateral Environmental Agreements to Protect in relation to Armed Conflict" University of Geneva: International Law Commission Seminars (2013)
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