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Protecting Vulnerable Environments in International Humanitarian Law
Stanford Journal of International Law (2015)
  • Michaela Halpern, Georgetown University
One of the fundamental principles of International Humanitarian Law, if not the fundamental principle, is the need to distinguish combatants from civilians and civilian objects in the course of belligerency. One of the most important civilian objects is the environment in which civilians live. However the importance of the environment has not been a focus of International Humanitarian Law until recent years. Rules of International Humanitarian Law now account for environmental matters generally but are not adequate to deal with particular "vulnerable" environments, such as the Arctic and the Amazon. Changes in these environments have the potential for world-wide repercussions and require special attention. This article develops the concept of the special case of the "vulnerable" environment and the peculiarly problems that are left unaddressed by International Humanitarian Law. Exploring the current status of the law, this article explores ways in which present interpretations of Customary International Law and IHL may be used or changed to accommodate the needs of those environments which are particularly endangered.
  • Vulnerable environments,
  • international humanitarian law,
  • Geneva Conventions,
Publication Date
October 13, 2015
Citation Information
Michaela Halpern. "Protecting Vulnerable Environments in International Humanitarian Law" Stanford Journal of International Law (2015)
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