Yearbook of International Environmental Law - Vol. 7

By Günther Handl; Jutta Brunnée et al. | Go to book overview

signatories remained at eight. None of the signatories proceeded to ratification of the Convention.


(8) European Union (EU)

The Commission of the European Communities organized a national experts meeting on environmental liability in Brussels on May 13. The meeting considered the following three options for the regulation of environmental liability: accession of the member states and the EU to the Lugano Convention; elaboration of a comprehensive directive on environmental liability based on the Lugano Convention; and/or elaboration of a directive dealing with the reparation of physical harm to the environment, as this type of harm is not covered by the Lugano Convention. The meeting, however, reached no consensus. Some experts opposed accession to the Lugano Convention on substantive grounds, while others opposed the elaboration of a comprehensive directive on environmental liability so as not to seal the fate of the Lugano Convention prematurely.

René Lefeber


5. PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT THROUGH CRIMINAL LAW

(1) International Court of Justice (ICJ)

On 8 July, the ICJ handed down its rulings on the two nuclear weapons cases before it. The first concerned a request for an advisory opinion by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the question: "In view of the health and environmental effects, would the use of nuclear weapons by a State in war or other armed conflict be a breach of its obligations under international law including the WHO constitution?" In this case, the Court ruled that it was unable to provide an opinion since this request did not comply with the provisions of Art. 96(2) of the UN Charter requiring that the question be within the scope of activities of the requesting organization.

The second case concerned a request for an advisory opinion by the UN General Assembly on the question: "Is the threat or use of nuclear weapons in any circumstance permitted under international law?" In this matter the Court did hand down an opinion, which contained several points. First, it unanimously found that international law did not specifically authorize the threat or use of nuclear weapons. In contrast, the Court was split on the question of whether a comprehensive or universal prohibition existed in international law on the threat or use of nuclear weapons, with a majority of 11 to 3 ruling that there was none. Unanimously, the Court declared unlawful any threat or use of force by nuclear weapons that is contrary to Art. 2(4) of the UN Charter and fails to meet the requirements of Art. 51 of the UN Charter.

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