IRRC No. 879

Taking care to protect the environment against damage: a meaningless obligation?

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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? If it is worthless, what makes it so? Since the care provision includes the same high threshold of harm found elsewhere in the environmental provisions, has this stumbling block now been removed by state practice? Rule 44 of the Customary Law Study might appear to suggest that this is so, or does it? Ultimately then, is the care obligation worth caring about?

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