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International Review of the Red Cross, 2010, No. 879 – Environment

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The International Review of the Red Cross is a quarterly published by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Cambridge University Press.


Texts published by the Review reflect the views of the author alone and not necessarily those of the ICRC or of the Review. Only texts bearing an ICRC signature may be ascribed to the institution.

Latest issue No. 879 - 2010

Theme Environment

Download pdfPDF 11 MB Climate change is not merely an environmental, scientific or economic issue; it has become a humanitarian issue too. Increased climate variability and greater intensity and frequency of extreme weather events aggravate humanitarian needs in emergencies. While migration may be a form of adaptation for some, the many millions of people forcibly displaced will be particularly vulnerable and will require substantial humanitarian assistance and protection. Environmental degradation may also become an accelerator or even a trigger for conflict. The serious harm done to the natural environment during a number of armed conflicts has only added to the vulnerability of those affected by the fighting. But the law protecting the environment during armed conflict is not always clear nor is it sufficiently developed.

Table of contents



  • Interview with Achim Steiner
    Achim Steiner is Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations Under-Secretary General. Effective as of 1 March 2009, Mr Steiner was also appointed Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON). From 2001 to 2006 he was Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
  • Climate change and its impacts: growing stress factors for human societies
    Martin Beniston
    This article focuses on the possible evolution of climate in the course of the twenty-first century and on a number of key climate impacts that may determine the future course of human societies, as well as issues that may confront them such as rivalries over natural resources and possible environmentally driven conflicts and migrations.
  • International law protecting the environment during armed conflict: gaps and opportunities
    Michael Bothe, Carl Bruch, Jordan Diamond, and David Jensen
    There are three key deficiencies in the existing body of international humanitarian law (IHL) relating to protection of the environment during armed conflict. These gaps present specific opportunities for clarifying and developing the existing framework.
  • Law-making at the intersection of international environmental, humanitarian, and criminal law: the issue of damage to the environment in international armed conflict
    Julian Wyatt
    This article identifies how international law rules for cross-sectoral problems may appropriately combine the existing expertise and institutional strengths of simultaneously applicable branches of international law, and also discovers how an evaluation of the ultimate appropriateness of the cross-sectoral rules adopted may be substantially affected by the different frames of reference that are used by those working within the different fields.
  • Water, international peace, and security
    Water scarcity, accelerated by climate change, affects water availability and may threaten peace and security. Keeping water out of war not only contributes to preserving an indispensable natural resource for life but also serves as a tool for the hostile parties to start negotiations, building trust and peace.
  • Taking care to protect the environment against damage: a meaningless obligation?
    Karen Hulme
    Little attention is paid to the obligation of ‘care’ in Article 55(1) of Additional Protocol I, Beyond a general principle of upholding environmental value in times of armed conflict, what is the scope and content of the obligation?
  • Climate change adaptation: integrating climate science into humanitarian work
    Lisette M. Braman, Pablo Suarez and Maarten K. Van Aalst
    A changing climate means more work for humanitarian organizations. In the face of rising dangers, science-based information about likely threats can be used to reduce risk and improve resource allocation. By doing so, humanitarian organizations can enhance their work even in the face of the rising risks of climate change.
  • Climate change, natural disasters and displacement: a multi-track approach to filling the protection gaps
    Vikram Kolmannskog and LisettaTrebbi
    Millions are displaced by climate-related disasters each year, and this trend is set to increase as climate change accelerates. It raises important questions about how well existing instruments actually protect people driven from their homes by climate change and natural disasters.

Selected article on international humanitarian law

  • Collective reparation for victims of armed conflict
    Friedrich Rosenfeld
    The victims of armed conflicts are not only individuals but also collectives. The present article therefore examines the issue of collective reparation. While it is submitted that the question whether there is a right to such a remedy is not yet settled, it is argued that responsible parties should develop robust programmes of collective reparation.

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