The Gulf War resulted in serious environmental damage. Iraq’s mass destruction of oil wells, the huge oil spills caused by allied air strikes and the use of heavy tracked vehicles in the desert by both sides triggered an environmental catastrophe, resulting in frequent sand storms, the destruction of marine wildlife, and high levels of poisonous by-products in the air from the 1991 oil fires.
Kuwait is a member of several treaties concerning the preservation of the environment.
As of Feb. 27, 1975 Kuwait has been obliged under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil, to inter alia, limit the size of oil tankers and to regulate oil tankers arrangements.
As of March 29, 1975, Kuwait has been obliged under the Convention Concerning Protection Against Hazards of Poisoning Arising from Benzene, to, inter alia, protect workers from hazards arising from benzene by using substitutes, providing adequate means of personal protection and taking all necessary measures to prevent the escape of benzene vapor into the air.
As of July 1, 1979, Kuwait has been obliged under the Kuwait Regional Convention for Cooperation on the Protection of the Marine Environment from Pollution to take all measures to prevent abate and combat pollution of the marine environment caused by ships, aircraft, land-based sources, exploration of the sea bed and other human activities. The convention also provides for a system of research and cooperation between the gulf states. Under an enclosed protocol to this convention, the gulf states have established the Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Center in order to combat sea pollution caused by oil.
Kuwait is a signatory to two treaties prohibiting the development and use of weapons modifying the environment, namely bacteriological toxin and nuclear weapons. Furthermore, Kuwait has ratified, inter alia, the following international environmental agreements: the 1977 UN Environmental Modification Convention (ENMOD); the 1983 FAO International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources; the 1967 Outer Space Treaty; Annex 16 on Environmental Protection to the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Air Aviation; the 1969 Brussels Convention Relating to Intervention on High Seas in case of Oil Pollution Casualties and its 1973 protocol; the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea; and the 1971 Brussels Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation of Oil Pollution Damage.