Logo Assembly Logo Hemicycle

The Council of Europe should take the lead on preventing environmental damage during armed conflict

The Council of Europe should take the lead in creating new legal instruments to prevent environmental damage during armed conflicts and reduce its scale as much as possible, PACE has said.

Approving a resolution and recommendation based on a report by John Howell (United Kingdom, EC/DA), the Assembly said armed conflict left “deep scars on human living space”, undermining the right to a healthy environment. Such damage could be “multifaceted, severe, long-lasting and mostly irreversible”.

International human rights and humanitarian law already imposed substantive obligations on states involved in conflict to protect the environment, but there were “important gaps”, the parliamentarians pointed out.

The deliberate severe destruction or deterioration of nature, which could be qualified as “ecocide”, should therefore be codified in both national and international law. The Assembly strongly supported efforts to amend the ICC’s Statute in order to add ecocide as a new crime.

There should be a prohibition on weapons which have a disproportionate impact on the environment and “render human life in the affected area impossible”, the parliamentarians added.