military objectives, and that of proportionality, which prohibits the use of means and methods of warfare that cause excessivedamage. The ENMOD Convention was negotiated at the Conference of the Disarmament Commission and was adopted by theGeneral Assembly of the United Nations on 10 December 1976. It was opened for signature in Geneva on 18 May 1977, andentered into force on 5 October 1978.
The ENMOD Convention:prohibiting use of the environmentas a means of warfare
The ENMOD Convention isspecifically intended to prevent use of the environment as a means of warfare, by prohibiting the deliberatemanipulation of natural processes thatcould produce phenomena such ashurricanes, tidal waves or changes inclimate.
States party to the Conventionundertake “not to engage in military or any other hostile use of environmentalmodification techniques havingwidespread, long-lasting or severeeffects as the means of destruction,damage or injury to any other StateParty” (Article I, para. 1).The States Parties further undertakenot to “assist, encourage or induce”any State, group of States or international organization to engage insuch activities (Article I, para. 2).The
covered are thoseintended to change
through thedeliberate manipulation of naturalprocesses, the dynamics
compositionor structure of the Earth” (Article II).To be banned by Article I, the use of prohibited techniques must meet allthe following criteria:
cause destruction, damage or injury to
another State Party
have widespread, long-lasting or severe
.While not part of the ENMODConvention, “Understandings” havebeen drawn up that define the extent,duration and severity criteria (Article I)for application of the Convention.The definitions are as follows:
: encompassing anarea of several hundred squarekilometres;
: lasting for a periodof months, or approximately aseason;
: involving serious or significant disruption or harm tohuman life, natural and economicresources or other assets. As examples, the Understandingsalso include a non-exhaustive list of phenomena that could result from theuse of environmental modificationtechniques: earthquakes andtsunamis; an upset in the ecologicalbalance of a region; changes inweather patterns (clouds,precipitation, cyclones and tornadicstorms); changes in climate patterns;changes in ocean currents; changesin the state of the ozone layer andchanges in the state of theionosphere.
Additional Protocol I: ban on theuse of methods and means of warfare that damage theenvironment
Protocol I of 1977 additional to theGeneva Conventions of 1949 appliesto international armed conflict andcontains two specific provisions for the protection of the environment.These provisions are clearlycomplementary to the ENMODConvention in the event of armedconflict: while the Conventionprohibits deliberate modification of theenvironment as a means of warfare, Additional Protocol I prohibits attackson the environment as such,regardless of the means used.
International Committee of the Red Cross