Environmental Damages and Armed Conflict

  • Gabriella Colao
Conference paper


The concerns about the environment and the associated damages to natural resources in times of armed conflict have emerged in distinct phases of the history reflecting the existing connection between the progress achieved through technology and the application of such scientific knowledge with the way they have transformed the concept of military operations. In the last century important protecting rules and criteria have been implemented to protect civilians, to safeguard those who no longer take part in hostilities, to distinguish civilian objects from military ones, and also to protect the environment as a whole in armed conflicts. However the issue of damages in times of war still remains highly controversial. The absence of an integrated and holistic approach in the normative framework applicable to armed conflict makes the environment extremely vulnerable and at risk, regardless of the incredible expansion of environmental law since the 1960. The three subsystems of international law, namely humanitarian law, international criminal law and international environmental law, although have incredibly broadened the legal basis for the protection in wartimes, present conflicting criteria, especially in determining liabilities for damages in armed conflict. Nevertheless balancing military operational requirements with environmental protection and security should not be viewed as an impossible task, even in conflicts. There is a critical need to increase the protecting efforts of nature and ecosystems both in peacetime and in war, exploring concepts that nature itself has developed and looking at new legal instruments from the perspective of common good and global commons, a revisited notion of national interest and of responsible sovereignty.


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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabriella Colao
    • 1
  1. 1.International OrganizationNaplesItaly

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