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Joint Submission: Protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts
29، May 2021

About this paper

This joint submission contains comments, observations, and suggestions pertaining to the Draft Principles (DPs) and their commentaries on the topic of ‘Protection of the Environment in Relation to Armed Conflicts’ (PERAC), which the International Law Commission (ILC) adopted on first reading in July 2019. Pursuant to the invitation by the ILC, this joint submission is addressed to the Secretary General of the ILC for consideration by the Commission in the context of adopting the PERAC DPs and their commentaries on second reading during the 73rd session of the ILC in 2022.

Key recommendations

The final text of the Draft Principles (DPs) on the ‘Protection of the Environment in Relation to Armed Conflicts’ (PERAC) should:

1. Include a new DP dealing with the responsibility of non-state armed groups (NSAGs). Given the increasing number of non-international armed conflicts (NIACs) in contemporary times and the concomitant role that NSAGs tend to assume, the DPs should establish measures to prevent, remedy, and prosecute environmental damage, and associated human rights violations, caused by NSAGs;

2. Include a new DP recommending the establishment of an international mechanism to monitor the implementation of the DPs and make recommendations based on good policies and practices.For the effectiveness of the DPs, it is indispensable to have an international mechanism tasked with monitoring and making recommendations regarding PERAC;

3. Include a new DP on the prohibition on attacking works or installations containing dangerous forces and objects indispensable for the civilian population, such as water infrastructure, even where these objects are military objectives, if such attack may be expected to cause significant damage to the environment;

4. Ensure meaningful consultation with indigenous peoples and affected communities at all stages of environmental protection in relation to armed conflicts;

5. Ensure that environmental protection is not used to legitimise prolonged occupation and/or annexation, and that the rights of the protected population are not undermined;

6. Strengthen the DPs on remedial measures in order to require cooperation, assistance, and relief. Such measures are necessary to ensure the DPs establish a comprehensive and effective framework for PERAC.

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Joint civil society submission to the Secretary General of the International Law Commission