Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the retreating Iraqis caused the deliberate discharge of six million barrels of oil into the shallow waters of the Persian Gulf. The immediate impact on the ecosystem was dramatic, and, because of the intense media coverage of the conflict, highly visible to the American public. The spill popularized the term 'ecoterrorism' and raised serious questions about the applicability of international law to the situation. There are numerous conventions that seek to establish standards of due diligence for the prevention of accidental pollution and to impose civil liability on those who damage the environment, but these conventions govern the relations of peaceful nations and their applicability in wartime situations is problematic. Only recently have efforts been made to address this issue, and to set forth some protective measures specifically designed to prevent widespread environmental devastation during armed conflict.