Magazine article UN Chronicle

Environmental Modification Ban Faithfully Observed, States Parties Declare

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Environmental Modification Ban Faithfully Observed, States Parties Declare

Article excerpt

States parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification (ENMOD) Techniques have affirmed that they have "faithfully observed" the provisions of the treaty institution a ban on such techniques which have "widespread, long-lasting or severe effects".

They also noted with satisfaction that the implementation of the Convention had not "hindered the economic or technological development of States parties"; called on States parties to provide and facilititate the fullest possible exchange of scientific and technological information on the research on and the development of such techniques; and invited the Secretary-General to receive such information for wide dissemination.

The treaty adherents did so in a Final Declaration, adopted by consensus, at the conclusion of the First Review Conference of the ENMOD Treaty, which was held in Geneva from 10 to 20 September 1984.

Conference President Keijo Korhonen (Finland), at the meeting's conclusion, said the meeting had proved it was still possible, "through mutual respect for the position of others and dialogue", to achieve concrete results in the field of arms limitation. "In the darkness which has descended upon international disarmament negotiations we have maybe been able to keep alive a small flickering light", he added.

In the Declaration, the Conference noted with satisfaction that no State Party had found it necessary to invoke Convention provisions relating to international complaints and verification procedures; and reaffirmed that the Convention should be of unlimited duration, and decided that a second Reivew Conference "may be held at Geneva" not earlier than 1989.

The ENMOD Convention, opened for signature on 18 May 1977, came into force on

5 October 1978. Article I states that each State party should undertake not to engage in and not to assist, encourage or induce any State, group of States or international organization to engage in military or any other hostile use of environmental modification techniques "having widespread, long-lasting or severe effects as the means of destruction, damage or injury to any other State party".

Article II of the text defines the term "environmental modification techniques" as referring to any technique for changing--through the deliberate manipulation of natural processes--the dynamics, composition or structure of the earth, including its biota, lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere or of outer space. Environmental modifications could lead to phenomena such as earthquakes, cyclones and tornadoes.

The Convention, however, does not hinder the use of such techniques for peaceful purposes. It was negotiated at the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament (CCD)--a predecessor body to the present Conference on Disarmament.

The Convention is accompanied by a group of "Understandings", worked out at the CCD but not written into the Convention. These statements clarify and amplify some Convention articles and are considered essential for comprehension of the drafters' intentions. …

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