How does environmental governance function in areas that are governed by non-state actors during conflicts? Olga Shashkina has explored this question in eastern Ukraine, where two new republics declared themselves when the Ukrainian government lost control of the region.
Report detailing the environmental footprint of UK military activities and operations, the UK arms industry and the potential environmental impact of the use of the UK’s nuclear weapons.
Joint position from CEOBS, the Environmental Law Institute, Norwegian People’s Aid, PAX, Zoï Environment Network and the Zoological Society of London that urges states to use UNEA-5 to help catalyse global efforts to address the link between armed conflicts and biodiversity loss.
Geodiversity provides the habitat upon which biodiversity is dependant, and it often also underpins the livelihoods of those living in conflict zones. In this blog, Dr Kevin Kiernan argues that we need to do more to protect it before, during and after conflicts.
The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the vulnerability of people in conflict-affected areas without access to water. In this blog, Dr Mara Tignino and Tadesse Kebebew argue that strengthening the norms protecting water infrastructure is more vital than ever.
This blog investigates a potential case of mine water flooding in eastern Ukraine, at a coal mine close to the location of an experimental nuclear detonation in the 1970s. Many mines have been closed during the conflict and with water pumping stopped there are widespread risks from pollution, methane leaks and subsidence.
Clearing land mines and tackling unexploded ordnance can harm the environment. Together with Norwegian People’s Aid, we surveyed the environmental attitudes and policies of mine action operators to try and identify where their practice could be improved.
Analysis of the growth and increasing level of organisation in informal oil refining in Syria – the practice creates acute and chronic health risks for workers and nearby communities, and dealing with its environmental legacy will be a huge task.
Could geoengineering technologies that can modify our climate pose a threat to peace and security? And could they join other environmentally risky civilian infrastructure in becoming a target or hostage during conflicts? Gabriela Kolpak investigates.
Armed conflicts pose a threat to biodiversity and hamper conservation efforts. New legal norms intended to protect the environment in relation to armed conflicts could provide greater protection for biodiversity hotspots and are the subject of a motion ahead of this year’s World Conservation Congress.
Policy brief by NATO’s Defence College on its developing environmental security agenda, which covers conflict risks, reducing harm in operations, how climate change will alter operations and impact bases, and on what role NATO should play in addressing and responding to these issues.
The need to improve environmental standards in mine action is particularly clear when working in areas with rich or sensitive ecosystems. Kendra Dupuy and Linsey Cottrell report from their field visit to Colombia and on the challenges mainstreaming faces there.
Deteriorating access to water during Yemen’s conflict has had a disproportionate impact on women. But far from passive, silent victims, Leonie Nimmo finds that they can be found on the front lines, delivering aid and negotiating access to water sources.
Poor environmental governance and a changing climate are leading to the displacement of people in southern Iraq, with families unable to sustain themselves from agriculture and livestock production.
A recent workshop co-hosted by NPA, CEOBS and The HALO Trust demonstrated the growing interest in the need to mainstream the environment and climate change in mine action. In this blog, Linsey Cottrell and Kendra Dupuy report on the outcomes from the event in Geneva.
The International Law Commission has adopted legal principles on corporate due diligence and liability for companies operating in areas affected by armed conflicts. In this blog Dr Taygeti Michalakea examines how these principles compare to the standards established by the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
To mark five years of conflict the OSCE Project Coordinator for Ukraine has published a series of infographics detailing the environmental consequences of the conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas region.
Side event on environmental mainstreaming in humanitarian mine action, co-organised by Norwegian People’s Aid, CEOBS and the HALO Trust. Feb 12th 2020, Geneva.
Our analysis of air monitoring data collected by the US embassy in Kabul between September and December 2019 sheds light on just how polluted the city’s air gets during the winter.
Clearing land mines and explosive remnants of war can also harm the environment. In a joint project, CEOBS is working with Norwegian People’s Aid to try and identify how this harm can be reduced. Kendra Dupuy and Linsey Cottrell share their thoughts as they begin the project.
Report: 2019’s UN General Assembly debate on the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts
Our round up and analysis of 2019’s UN General Assembly debate on proposals by the International law Commission to strengthen the laws protecting the environment in relation to armed conflicts.
IOM | Rural areas in Ninewa: Legacies of conflict on rural economies and communities in Sinjar and Ninewa Plains
Report finds that Islamic State’s extractive and destructive policies towards agricultural areas in northern Iraq are continuing to hamper renewed agricultural activities in rural Ninewa Plains and Sinjar and are delaying the return of IDP farmers to their areas of origin.
NATO and its member states are reacting to growing international pressure to reduce the environmental consequences of conflicts, this compilation of articles provides examples of this response.
Peacetime environmental legislation can help reduce the use of hazardous materials in conflicts. In this blog Linsey Cottrell and Doug Weir examine the impact of EU REACH legislation on the European defence industry, and the implications of a hard Brexit for efforts to reduce the polluting footprint of the UK MoD.
Joint civil society statement from 103 NGOs and experts to mark #EnvConflictDay 2019 calling for states to take urgent action to address the environmental dimensions of armed conflicts.
Afghanistan and its people are highly vulnerable to Climate Change, this briefing examines these risks and proposes measures to address them.
This report provides insights into the positions likely to be taken by the ICRC in its revised environmental guidelines for military manuals, which are expected to be published in 2020.
A brief overview of international legal and policy initiatives relating to conflict and the environment, with timeline and further suggested reading.
Briefing paper: Strengthening the International Law Commission’s newly adopted draft principles on the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts
Briefing paper for states ahead of October 2019’s debate in the UN General Assembly’s Sixth Committee. The paper identifies opportunities to strengthen the most recent draft principles proposed by the ILC on the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts.
CEOBS has reviewed the UK’s policy and practice on the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts and found considerable room for improvement in both practice and reporting.
Report: The United Kingdom’s practice on the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts
In this report we analyse the UK’s practice on the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts, using the draft principles on the topic that have been developed by the UN’s International Law Commission.
This report contains all 28 draft principles adopted by the ILC at First Reading in July 2019, together with their commentaries.
Civilian science: the potential of participatory environmental monitoring in areas affected by armed conflicts
Paper by CEOBS, Goldsmiths University of London and King’s College London on the potential of civilian science – participatory citizen science methodologies – for environmental data collection in areas affected by armed conflicts.
Conflicts often disrupt environmental governance and sustainable development. In this blog Doug Weir examines how the conflict in Yemen has interrupted plans to improve waste management while creating new risks to human and environmental health.
PAX/Bellingcat | Iranian oil spills on Syria’s shores: a brief OSINT overview of an environmental incident
In June, a marine oil pipeline feeding a Syrian oil refinery was sabotaged, this open source investigation considers the environmental consequences of the incident.
A study of satellite data by the REACH Initiative has found that 948,000 acres of agricultural land in Syria was affected by wildfires between May and June 2019.
An investigation into the factors behind the water crisis in Basra Iraq, and the failure of the Iraqi government to address them.
Reconstruction and analysis of herbicide spraying events on the Gaza border that reveals the extent to which Israeli spraying is affecting Palestinian areas, impacting on agriculture and potentially on human health.
2019 is a hugely symbolic year for the laws protecting the environment in conflict. The adoption of 28 legal principles by the UN’s International Law Commission this month is the first of two major milestones. Stavros Pantazopoulos Looks at what has been agreed, what’s missing and what happens next.
The impacts of climate change are particularly complex in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The region suffers from violent conflicts and severe water scarcity, while climate models show more serious scenarios here than in other regions. This paper explains how the security of the MENA region is inscribed in a new climate reality.
Policy brief which shows that eight of the 10 countries hosting the largest multilateral peace operations in 2018 were located in areas highly exposed to climate change, yet international efforts to build and maintain peace are not yet taking these emerging challenges systematically into account.
A paper examining US military fuel use for the post 9-11 wars, which finds that the Department of Defense emits more CO2 than many countries with advanced economies.
Gleick | Water as a weapon and casualty of armed conflict: A review of recent water-related violence in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen
Recent and ongoing conflicts in the MENA have seen the increasing use of water as a weapon and as a target, this paper by the Pacific Institute analyses this trend and considers ways to address it through enhancing protection during conflicts.
ILC | Text and titles of the draft principles provisionally adopted by the Drafting Committee on first reading
First look at the entire suite of draft legal principles that have been under development by the International Law Commission since 2013 and which are intended to enhance protection for the environment in relation to armed conflicts.
In late 2019, the ICRC will launch updated guidelines for militaries on environmental protection during armed conflicts, this blog and animation consider why they are needed.
This article uses open source methods and remote sensing to explore the trail of agricultural destruction caused by fires in central Iraq in May 2019, and reviews the evidence of whether they have been deliberately started by Islamic State.
Colombian experts are working on a proposal for the new transitional justice to investigate the ways in which the environment and its caretakers have been affected by violence.
Four decades of conflict and recurrent natural disasters have debilitated Afghanistan’s institutions and weakened the resilience of its people. In a country where more than 70 percent of the population is associated with crop production and livestock, the food security situation is expected to deteriorate further.
New UN legal report addresses the responsibility of states and corporations for environmental damage in conflict
Seven new draft principles on the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts are being debated by the UN’s International Law Commission. Stavros Pantazopoulos examines the principles and finds that they are likely to be contested by governments.
Environmental risks and damage in conflicts have long been used for propaganda purposes but the growth of social media has turbocharged this in recent years. In this blog Doug Weir and Dr Nickolai Denisov untangle cases from Gaza, Ukraine and Yemen to explore how information becomes a weapon.
A report assessing how the conflict in eastern Ukraine has impacted the quality of surface and groundwaters in the Siverskyi Donets basin, which is intersected by the Ukraine conflict’s frontline.
Blog analysing the challenges that post-conflict sustainable development will face in Colombia without efforts to strengthen governance at all levels.
A dilapidated tanker with 1.14m barrels of crude oil has become a pawn in the conflict in Yemen. The potential for miscalculation leading to a spill that would cause serious harm to Red Sea ecosystems is significant. In this blog Doug Weir catches up with developments with the SAFER FSO one year on.
ILC | Second report on the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts by Marja Lehto, Special Rapporteur
The 5th report from the International Law Commission on the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts proposes seven new draft principles and addresses a range of issues, include the responsibility of state and non state actors.
Satellite imagery and remote sensing are offering new ways to study the environment in areas affected by armed conflicts. Dr Lina Eklund provides examples of how they can be used to monitor changes in land use, what those changes can tell us, and offers tips on how you can try it at home.
The Global Environmental Outlook is UN Environment’s periodic assessment of the state of the world’s environment. The latest edition paints a bleak picture; Doug Weir and Leonie Nimmo take a look at what it has to say about the environmental dimensions of armed conflicts and security.
A study that seeks to document and model the impact of the conflict in Yemen on sustainable development, including its impact on environmental infrastructure such as water and sanitation, and its impact on agricultural practices and food security.
This policy brief examines the environmental and political impact of climate change on Palestine-Israel, particularly in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), offering recommendations for political and practical climate change adaptation.
Eight Year Anniversary of the Syrian Civil War: Thematic assessment of satellite identified damage This damage atlas provides an overview of infrastructure damage in 16 towns and cities across Syria, as well as the Eastern Ghouta region (Duma, Arbin, Harasta, Misraba), providing some of the context needed to understand post-conflict conditions. It also provides a…
How did this year’s UN Environment Assembly address environmental security and the environmental dimensions of armed conflicts. Doug Weir reviews what was achieved and considers how future meetings could provide an important platform for the topic.
This year could be a significant one for how the international community interprets the law protecting the environment in non-international armed conflicts. Right now, protection is minimal and, as Jeanique Pretorius explains, addressing this is likely to require that we also look to human rights and environmental law for inspiration.
After two game changing resolutions at its second and third meetings, Doug Weir looks ahead to the Fourth UN Environment Assembly this month to gauge the level of interest in the environmental dimensions of armed conflicts, and finds that the concept of environmental security remains as contested as ever.
A new study has examined the causes and extent of infrastructure damage in Gaza and the West Bank. Leonie Nimmo takes a look at both the consequences of slow violence under occupation, and periods of armed violence for the environment and for the viability of life.
Report assessing the reverberating effects of the use of explosive weapons in Syria, which considers the environmental legacy of UXO and of the destruction to agricultural and industrial areas during the conflict.
Israel, Palestine, and Jordan are all grappling with water scarcity in different ways and to different degrees. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is considered a climate hotspot due to its natural water scarcity, low levels of socio-ecological resilience, social tensions and political conflicts, and ongoing immigration crisis. Over the course of the…
The first-ever global assessment of environmental rule of law finds weak enforcement to be a global trend that is exacerbating environmental threats, despite prolific growth in environmental laws and agencies worldwide over the last four decades.
Open source analysis of the impact of unseasonably heavy rains in northern Syria on IDPs and damaged oil infrastructure. When the season of heavy rainfall began in war-torn Syria, the misery local residents and internally displaced persons (IDPs) have faced over the years was compounded by environmental setbacks. This open-source monitoring blog of the situation…
A year after victory was declared over Islamic State in Iraq, this report examines the human and environmental legacy of its strategy of wanton damage in agricultural areas, and why more recovery assistance is needed from the Iraqi government.
This report provides an overview of OSCE SMM-facilitation and monitoring of infrastructure repair and maintenance in eastern Ukraine (January 2017 – August 2018).
A round up of the 7th November 2018 Arria Formula debate in the UN Security Council on the protection of the environment during armed conflict – the first time the topic has been discussed in the Council.
Our round up and analysis of the recent debate in the UN General Assembly’s Sixth Committee on the International Law Commission’s ongoing study into strengthening the legal framework protecting the environment in relation to armed conflicts. Progress is being made but fundamental differences of opinion remain.
Organisations and experts issue a joint statement to mark #EnvConflictDay 2018. The statement urges the international community to do far more to enhance the environmental security of communities before, during and after conflicts.
Afghanistan’s economy and people are heavily reliant on agriculture, a sector that has been under huge pressure due to conflict and insecurity and increasingly to climate change. This report from the UN FAO provides insights into the linkages between these factors and the efforts to address them.
CEOBS, PAX, Zoï | ‘Towards a Pollution-Free Planet’: Input on the implementation of UNEA resolution 3/1
Joint input for UN Environment’s consultation for its ‘Pollution Free Planet’ report that will be published at UNEA-4 in March 2019. The publication proposes a number of recommendations for measures that should be taken to minimise and address conflict pollution and the toxic remnants of war, and which should be pursued in the implementation of UNEA resolution 3/1.
CEOBS & Al Haq | Strengthening the International Law Commission’s draft principles on environmental protection in situations of occupation
A joint briefing paper by CEOBS and Al Haq with recommendations to states on how to strengthen the International Law Commission’s draft principles on the protection of the environment in situations of occupation.
This RAND study investigates the public health consequences of Gaza’s water crisis, finding that more than a quarter of all reported disease in Gaza is linked to poor water quality. The study also examines the steps necessary to improve water supplies to the Strip.
This report gives an overview of the impact of the Coalition bombing campaign on food production and distribution in rural Yemen and on fishing along the Red Sea coast.
This paper considers the threat that environmental degradation poses for peacebuilding and recovery in Iraq and Yemen, with a particular focus on climate change risks. But it also identifies opportunities for addressing the environment during reconstruction efforts.
Over the summer, the International Law Commission has strengthened its draft principles on environmental protection in situations of occupation. In this blog, CEOBS teams up with Al-Haq to review the revised principles against current cases of occupation to identify any further improvements that could be made.
Input submitted to UN Environment’s law division during a review meeting on the IV Montevideo Programme on the development of international environmental law, Geneva.
Climate change, drought and military activities all contributed to a spate of wildfires in Iraq during the summer of 2018, a pattern that seems likely to continue in coming years.
Expert Working Group on Climate-related Security Risks | Iraq Climate-related security risk assessment
Hydrological limitations, increasing temperatures and extreme weather events put pressure on basic resources and undermine livelihood security for Iraq’s population. Failure to monitor and manage these climate-related risks will increase the risk from ISIS and post-ISIS terrorist groups.
Water security is a growing problem in Afghanistan, and one that looks likely to worsen with the impact of climate change. Access to clean water is already limited and aquifers and rivers badly affected by pollution.
Since March, Palestinian protesters have been launching incendiary kites and balloons over the border into Israel. The ensuing fires have affected agricultural areas and nature reserves, with no end in sight protected areas are the conflicts’s latest environmental casualty.
Alongside other major long-term challenges, such as the resettlement and integration of refuges and internally displaced people, urban rehabilitation or political stability, a vital priority must be to address Iraq’s water crisis in order to break the cycles of conflict and post-conflict periods and to build a basis for sustainable peace in the country.
In June 2018, social media and OSINT were used to identify damage caused to an oil storage site in Libya caused by fighting between the LNA and a former PFG commander.
Pollution is killing more people in Afghanistan each year than armed violence. While efforts have been made to build environmental governance since 2003, addressing the health and environmental threats posed by pollution in the face of insecurity, high levels of corruption and with limited financial resources remains an enormous challenge.
A summary report commission by DfID covering the risks Iraq faces due to climate change, the degradation of water resources, biodiversity loss and conflict pollution.
The latest report by the International Law Commission in its ongoing study into the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts deals with environmental protection in situations of occupation. This blog looks at the new draft principles, their basis and argues that they should be strengthened.
Debris generated by conflicts poses health and environmental risks and its unsustainable management can lead to further environmental problems. This study reviewed the options for managing the vast quantity of debris generated by the conflict against Islamic State in Mosul.
The Global Pact for the Environment and the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts
It looks likely that an initiative to create a legally binding global agreement enshrining the principles of environmental law will go ahead. The draft text includes a principle on the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts; this blog takes a look at how the Pact could influence the ongoing legal debate.
In March, the Yemeni government called for UN help in dealing with a potentially serious oil pollution threat in the Red Sea. The case has highlighted the wider threat from oil pollution in Yemen’s civil war and the risks it poses to the Red Sea’s ecology.
AREU | Still water runs deep: Illicit poppy and the transformation of the deserts of southwest Afghanistan
A call to rethink how agricultural areas converted from desert to poppy production in Afghanistan are viewed.
Conflicts like the ones in the Ukraine, Iraq, and Syria show how wartime damage to the environment can have long-term consequences for countries as they seek to recover.
ILC | First report on protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts by Marja Lehto, Special Rapporteur
While previous reports by the ILC adopted a temporal approach, broadly addressing environmental protection before, during and after conflicts, the new report delves into the obligations on states to protect the environment during situations of occupation and proposes three new draft principles.
In 2015, 24,142 hectares of forest were lost, which is almost 20% of Colombia’s total forested area in that year. The main driving forces of the deforestation are the expansion of the agricultural industry to make room for cattle, along with the commercialization of wood, illicit crops, and illegal mining.
This report looks at the environmental impact of peace operations and how the UN has responded, including through policies and guidelines, dedicated staff, and training material. In particular, it assesses the challenges the Department of Field Support faces in implementing its Environment Strategy.
Welcome to our new website and new organisational identity, this blog explains why we have launched The Conflict and Environment Observatory after six years as the Toxic Remnants of War Project, and what we hope to achieve.
There is a war being waged against whales, and it is being fought with noise, and it has left scientists and conservationists concerned about the potential impact of military noise on the wider marine ecosystem as a whole. Are naval activities bound by environmental norms, or will the damage continue in the name of national security?
With a growing number of individuals and organisations working on environmental security, and on a range of international, regional and domestic initiatives, it’s a good time to examine whether we are working effectively. This blog considers why greater civil society collaboration on environmental security is not only timely but vital.
Years of bombing by the US-led Coalition and Russian Air Force, combined with fighting around and attacks on oil refineries, have resulted in a severely damaged oil industry in Syria.
A brief introduction to the relationship between military activities and environmental harm, with suggested further reading.
A brief introductory overview of the environmental dimensions of the conflict in Yemen, with facts, figures and further reading.
The end of hostilities left Mosul, already devastated by ISIL’s wanton killings, grappling with debris from widespread destruction of infrastructure by rival forces.
A brief introductory overview of the environmental dimensions of the conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas region, with facts, figures and further reading.
Parties to the conflict must be encouraged to agree to a cessation of hostilities which must include safeguards for health, water and sanitation facilities.
A brief introductory overview of the environmental dimensions of the conflict in Syria, with facts, figures and further reading.
A brief introductory overview of the environmental issues facing the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with facts, figures and further reading.
Recommendations for States and UN Environment for the implementation of UNEP/EA.3/Res.1: ‘Pollution mitigation and control in areas affected by armed conflict of terrorism’.
How the needs of conflict-affected communities in Southern Libya are being addressed. Communities in southern Libya crucially rely on water wells to extract water, which through the connection to the water well network, reaches peoples’ individual homes. Over the past few years, many wells have fallen into disrepair or were not connected to the electricity…
Lasting development of Afghanistan’s mining sector can only be possible if local and foreign actors achieve a certain level of stability and can establish inclusive governance structures in some parts of Afghanistan.
Amid land mines, militants, and air strikes, conservationists are trying to carve out a protected area in the war-torn country. Can they succeed?
A brief introductory overview of the environmental dimensions of Libya’s conflict, with facts, figures and further reading.
A brief introductory overview of the environmental dimensions of Iraq’s conflicts, with facts, figures and further reading.
A brief introductory overview of the environmental dimensions of post-conflict Colombia, with facts, figures and further reading.
A brief introductory overview of the environmental dimensions of the conflict in Afghanistan, with facts, figures and further reading.
A recurring theme in the conversations is that the problem with the environment was that once it would go wrong, it would go wrong in a very destructive way.
Centre For Governance and Peace-building-Yemen | Yemen between the Impact of the Climate Change and the Ongoing Saudi-Yemen War: A Real Tragedy
This paper assesses the impact of climate change and Saudi-Yemen ongoing war on Yemen’s economy, agriculture, households and health and the proposed solutions for adaptation to climate change.
Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign | Tigris River Pollution in Baghdad: Challenges and Recommendations
This report finds that the water quality of the Tigris River has deteriorated in recent times and pollutants have left an imprint on the population. Wastewater from various sources flows directly into the river: in particular increasing levels of industrial and public service discharges.
President Santos is expanding national parks but they remain under threat from agriculture.
The military has been quicker than some to grasp the problems that climate change might cause, but until recently, this hadn’t looked closer to home, and at their many installations around the world.
Islamic State is chopping down fruit trees and smuggling the timber into Pakistan, claim Afghan officials and local residents of the Deh Bala district of eastern Nangarhar province where the terrorist group operates.
Report on the use of aerial herbicides by the Israeli Defence Forces on agricultural areas along the border of the Gaza Strip and its implications for human health and the environment.
Communities living in proximity to the Abu Kammesh and Melittah Oil and Gas complex are concerned over rates of health problems linked to pollution from the sites.
After five decades of civil war, Colombia is holding more than seven million displaced people, second only to Syria worldwide, now they are returning home.
While much has been written about the United States’ security and geopolitical motivations for the War in Afghanistan, relatively little literature exists on the conflict’s mineral factor, this analysis identified how the past three administrations shaped their policy directives around Afghanistan’s mineral deposits.
The Islamic State footprint on Iraq’s environment may be unprecedented and permanent, with a toxic legacy that includes wide-scale cattle deaths, fields that no longer yield edible crops and chronic breathing complications in children and the elderly, doctors and experts said.
UNEA-3 | Resolution: Pollution mitigation and control in areas affected by armed conflict or terrorism
This resolution was triggered by the widespread pollution caused by Islamic State in Iraq, it sought to draw attention to wide range of factors that cause pollution in conflict and strengthen the response by states and UN Environment to the health and environmental risks posed by the toxic remnants of war.
The overall objective of this research was to provide evidenced recommendations on programmes and policy that could sustain markets inside Syria, as a means to increase food-insecure communities’ resilience to the conflict.
Interview with Dr. Hassan Janabi, Iraq’s Minister of Water Resources on the developing water crisis in the country.
Pulitzer Center | ‘It’s a Perverse System’: How Colombia’s Farmers Are Reforesting Their Logged Land
Land grabs, government policies and a lack of governance in the regions are all placing Colombia’s environment at risk.
Since 2015, a number of different actors have published data on the environmental impact of the conflict in Ukraine. Doug Weir and Nickolai Denisov take a look at the different methodologies that have been used to monitor environmental harm, their findings, and what the studies tell us about how monitoring could be improved.
Insights into the factors affecting deforestation in areas of Colombia under the control of armed groups and the government.
The plenary sessions of UNEA-3 saw a number of states highlight the environmental impact of armed conflicts and terrorism. These had been encouraged by the negotiations on a resolution on the topic at the assembly. The plenary statements were a reflection of national experiences and perspectives on conflict and the environment; Foeke Postma examines who said what, and why.
This series from Pro Publica sought to map toxic military sites on the continental US, investigated specific contaminants such as RDX and documented the environmental risks from practises such as outsourcing military clean-ups.
The publication “Environmental Assessment and Recovery Priorities for Eastern Ukraine” incorporates existing information from various sources on impact and threats to the environment posed by a conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
OCHA | Poor infrastructure and lack of funding put over 560,000 people at risk of flooding in the Gaza Strip
During periods of rainfall, the sewage/storm water station receives rainwater mixed with sewage. This must be pumped out to the storm water infiltration ponds, to the sea or to open areas.
Israel has set out less stringent regulations in industrial zones in settlements and even offers financial incentives such as tax breaks and government subsidies. This policy has made it more profitable to build and operate waste treatment facilities in the West Bank than inside Israel.
Coverage of the health and environmental risks posed by the abandoned Abu Khammash chemical plant in northern Libya.
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union | On the brink of survival: damage to the environment during armed conflict in east of Ukraine
The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine has not only led to heavy casualties, but also caused significant damage to ecosystems and natural resources as a result of the violation of international principles of and national law.
After months of negotiations, governments at the UN Environment Assembly have finally agreed a consensus resolution on conflict pollution that was tabled by Iraq. It’s the first UN resolution to focus on the health and environmental risks posed by toxic remnants of war, read our analysis.
Living under a black sky revealed how the conflict in Iraq has left a toxic trail of destruction,which could have severe health consequences for communities and reconstruction efforts.
A new PAX report, ‘Living under a black sky’, reveals how the conflict in Iraq has left a toxic trail of destruction,which could have severe health consequences for communities and reconstruction efforts.
After four months of consultations and negotiations, it’s decision time for governments over Iraq’s UN Environment Assembly resolution on conflict pollution. However with deep divisions on show between states on the role of the environment in matters of peace and security, Doug Weir suggests that it is still unclear what will happen when negotiations begin again tomorrow.
Battered by shifting resources, desperate farmers were driven into terror recruiters’ clutches. Can it happen again?
How a former chemical plant has been abandoned due to the conflict and now poses risks to the environment and local communities.
Governments at the UN General Assembly’s Sixth Committee have welcomed the continuation of the International Law Commission’s study into the legal framework protecting the environment in relation to armed conflicts. However, while there was near universal support for the study, its scope, priorities and eventual outcome are all still subject to debate.
UN experts on human rights and hazardous substances, and safe drinking water and sanitation, raise concerns over the potential risks from damage to water infrastructure in the Donbas region.
33 NGOs and 12 experts mark the UN’s 6th November #EnvConflictDay 2017 by releasing a joint statement calling for progress on conflict and the environment.
This study used remote observations to model the atmospheric dispersion of sulphur dioxide from a fire at the Al Mishraq sulphur plant near Mosul, estimated casualties corresponded well with those reported.
After a half-century of conflict, Colombia is regaining control of vast biologically rich areas that had been havens for rebel groups. Now, scientists are racing to create plans for conservation and sustainable development to head off an influx of illegal loggers and miners.
To date, debate over the implications of the growing use of armed drones has focused on human rights, on the expansion of the use of force into new contexts, and on the imbalances created by the newfound ability to project violence at a distance. Doug Weir and Elizabeth Minor consider the environmental dimensions of the use of drone warfare. They find the literature to be largely absent of considerations over the environmental and derived humanitarian impacts of drone operations, and so this blog, should be viewed as a starting point for efforts to assess the environmental consequences of the use of armed drones.
PAX/Bellingcat | Hazardous Legacies: An Open-Source Overview of the Destruction of Deir ez-Zor’s Oil Industry
Russian Air Force and CJTF-OIR bombing has heavily targeted oil infrastructure. At the same time, scorched-earth tactics by the Islamic State also caused pollution. These actions have left an environmental toxic footprint that is already posing health risks to local communities.
Water stress, climatic factors and poor governance all had a part to play in undermining Syrian society. Syria became water-stressed due to both external and internal factors. Reduced rainfall levels and an unfavorable position in the Euphrates-Tigris river basin contributed to Syria’s socio-economic vulnerability to drought. These are factors that are difficult to control nationally.…
The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue’s assessment has a particular focus on the threats posed by industrial facilities and coal mines in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.
Stahn et al | Environmental Protection and Transitions from Conflict to Peace: Clarifying Norms, Principles, and Practices
This open access book covers a range of environmental issues common to post-conflict settings and explores legal and policy principles relevant to enhancing environmental protection.
ISIL’s scorched earth policy in Iraq: options for its victims to be recognised under international law
With what has been called a ‘landmark’ resolution, the UN Security Council has established a team to investigate international crimes committed by ISIL in Iraq. Will the investigative team also seek accountability for the victims of its scorched earth policy and oil fires? On which criminal provisions could the team of experts rely to address conflict-related environmental harm?
Even without a peace plan, environmentalists have recognised that the pollution and water problems need common solutions.
This rapid scoping assessment was primarily based on observational walkover surveys, and focus group discussions and interviews with government experts, academics and UN agencies.
The Iraqi government has tabled a draft resolution aimed at addressing pollution caused by armed conflicts and terrorist operations for this year’s meeting of the UN Environment Assembly. The overarching theme of UNEA3 is pollution, and the universal membership body is the UN’s primary decision-making body on the environment. Doug Weir takes a look at the scope of the initial text and looks ahead to the negotiations.
Next week, UN Environment will host the biennial Environment and Emergencies Forum (EEF) in Nairobi. The EEF seeks to showcase innovations in environmental emergency preparedness and response, and to highlight current efforts on integrating environmental risk in humanitarian action. Although it has been held since 1995, until this year it has never specifically focused on the human health and environmental threats caused by armed conflicts. Wim Zwijnenburg and Doug Weir preview the event and consider some of the main challenges faced by humanitarian practitioners seeking to minimise the risks posed by toxic remnants of war.
Report and recommendations from the High-Level Panel on Water and Peace on the ways to address water security throughout the cycle of conflicts.
The objective of the Damage Assessment (DA) of selected cities is to provide information on the effects of the current crisis on population, physical infrastructure, and quality of service delivery in those cities.
The then Austrian Foreign Minister and Chair of the OSCE Sebastian Kurz on the environmental risks being created by the conflict in Ukraine.
Climate change and water stress are posing a serious challenge to Afghanistan’s farmers.
The humanitarian problems posed by the substandard living conditions in Gaza require the attention of international actors associated with the peace process. If the living conditions in Gaza do not improve in the near future, the region will inevitably experience another round of conflict, more violent than the last.
London conference highlights opportunities to improve environmental response to conflict pollution in Iraq
As the dust settles from the battle to recapture Mosul, and the urgent humanitarian crisis reaches its peak with millions of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in desperate need of medical help, shelter food and water, Iraq is beginning to reflect on the extent of the damage inflicted by the battle against the so-called Islamic State (IS). Beyond the immediate needs of IDPs, it is becoming clear that recovery and reconstruction will be a huge challenge, requiring billions of dollars to rebuild the country. One element that will need to be addressed writes Wim Zwijnenburg, but which is rarely prioritised in the reconstruction agenda, is the impact of conflict on the environment and its consequent health risks.
Like all wars, Syria’s conflict has taken not just a massive human toll, it has also had a significant environmental impact. But green initiatives in rebel and Kurdish areas – even failed ones – have brought a small measure of hope to local people.
Since 1989, the Basel Convention, and later the Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, have played an important role in international efforts to minimise the health and environmental threats from chemicals and hazardous wastes. However, their implementation relies heavily on the ability of states to ensure robust domestic environmental governance. Armed conflicts and insecurity commonly disrupt the capacity of states to adequately respond to the pollution threats that may arise from them, and to oversee or implement environmental regulations.
To calculate the extent of the damage, the report relied on satellite imagery cross checked with traditional and social media postings, data from the ongoing Syria Damage Assessment, and information from partner organizations that have a presence on the ground.
We’re just over halfway through the negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons and, while some campaigners and states seem generally happy with the progress being made on the draft text, there are too few voicing concerns that its environmental dimensions have been neglected. This matters because the treaty is intended first and foremost as a humanitarian instrument, and yet protecting fundamental human rights requires that the environment that people depend upon is also protected.
Last year’s landmark UNEA-2 resolution on conflict and the environment, the most significant of its kind since 1992, was the product of tough negotiations. Fortunately however, a hard-fought reference on gender made the final version of the text. Alexandria Reid suggests that the reference itself is unquestionably a positive step. But to effectively incorporate this gender perspective in future policy to fully understand and clarify what gendered approaches mean in the context of conflict, peacebuilding and the environment.
The current diplomatic process towards a convention banning nuclear weapons is a remarkable breakthrough. It’s also an opportunity to reset the difficult historical relationship between nuclear weapons, and the international law intended to protect the environment in relation to armed conflicts. This blog analyses the environmental elements of the newly published draft ban treaty but in doing so it finds that there is room for improvement, if states and civil society hope to truly deliver on their humanitarian and environmental objectives.
A near-forgotten island in the Indian Ocean, Socotra was outshadowed by the conflict raging in Yemen, allowing the UAE to turn it into a military outpost and tourist hotspot.
With 2017’s UN Environment Assembly focusing on the theme of pollution, UN Environment’s Civil Society Unit invited the TRW Project to contribute an extended article on conflict pollution to its long-running Perspectives series.
Eklund et al | How conflict affects land use: agricultural activity in areas seized by the Islamic State
The emergence of IS reshaped the agricultural landscape of Iraq and Syria in some areas, low-intensity agriculture was generally maintained and even expanded in some places. High-intensity farming seems to have been better maintained inside the IS zones than in the rest of Iraq and Syria.
The aim of the study was to create conditions for a wide public discussion about the actual economic, environmental and social consequences of coal mining in Donbas during the war
Agriculture and the livelihoods that depend on it have suffered massive loss. The report finds that food production is at a record low and around half the population remaining in Syria are unable to meet their daily food needs.
Large-scale heavy industry in the Donbas region adds to the risks posed to civilians through the risk of environmental pollution and related health issues. This article focuses on the often overlooked, or at minimum under-reported, risks of the impact of the conflict on the environment.
This blog discusses the findings of a project to map the targeting of agricultural infrastructure in rural Yemen.
Meet Azzam Alwash, the man who left a life of luxuries behind in the US to return to his native Iraq and restore the country’s historically significant wetlands to their former glory.
Biodiversity hotspots cover just 1.4% of the planet’s surface, yet 80% of major armed conflicts between 1950 and 2000 occurred in these areas. With the recent release of a UN report stressing the direct relationship between biodiversity and human rights, Alex Reid asks whether it’s time for us to reassess our understanding of the links between armed conflict, human rights and conservation.
Washington Post | Shelling around Ukrainian industrial facilities may trigger serious environmental consequences, report says
A steady uptick in shelling along front lines in eastern Ukraine is threatening numerous industrial facilities that, if damaged, could trigger severe environmental and humanitarian consequences, according to a new report by an environmental nonprofit organization.
With the Ukraine conflict’s environment risks again in the news, Zoï Environment Network has released new maps on the environmental consequences of the conflict. Both sides are increasingly conscious of the humanitarian and ecological impact of the war and plans to minimise risks and encourage sustainable reconstruction are being promoted. But without a comprehensive assessment of the damage, such proposals are of limited value.
Water filtration plants in Ukraine have been repeatedly damaged by shelling. How big a risk does the chlorine gas stored at these sites present?
Everyone recognises the importance of environmental mainstreaming. It’s a problem that is particularly acute for conflict and the environment, where the environment is rarely prioritised before, during or after conflicts. In turn this influences how we frame the issues we work on, and it also influences how we work, often content with modest progress from one project to the next. The barriers we face are shared, and systemic, which begs the question – do we need to change the system, together?
This profile provides an overview of climate risk issues in Libya, including how climate change will potentially impact agriculture, water resources, human health and coastal zones.
The Dialogue | Peace and Environmental Protection in Colombia: Proposals for Sustainable Rural Development
Report assessing the environmental impact of the armed conflict in Colombia, potential environmental risks in former conflict zones resulting from the implementation of the peace accords, and which identifies the institutional, economic, and policymaking challenges to mitigating those risks.
Science Alert | Syria’s War Has Affected Water in The Region So Much, You Can See The Damage From Space
The Syrian crisis has resulted in a reduction in agricultural land in southern Syria, a decline in Syrian demand for irrigation water and a dramatic change in the way the Syrians manage their reservoirs.
Vasyliuk et al | Steppe protected areas on the territory of Ukraine in the context of the armed conflict in the Donbas region and Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula
This article analyses the factors influencing the conservation status of protected areas in Ukraine caused by the unstable political situation in the country in the years 2014‐2016, including military action and occupation of the eastern part of Ukraine by Russian troops, and annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and increasing military activity of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Khat now ranks first in the list of cash crops in Yemen, with an average cultivated area of 166,557 hectares, out of a total cultivated land of approximately 1,172,000 hectares. Meanwhile, the total yield has reached nearly 190 thousand tons annually.
The Great Man-made River is a remarkable feat of engineering but the whole scheme could collapse if the mayhem in Libya continues.
EU chemicals legislation intended to protect human health and the environment is having an impact on military procurement within the EU and beyond. This report outlines the concerns of the European Defence Association over these regulations.
Heinrich Böll Foundation | Bitter Tales from the Crescent Conflict, Pollution, and Climate Challenges for War-Torn Syria
With the conflict still raging, and creating more environmental damage, what will this legacy of degradation and pollution entail for Syria’s future, and opportunities for building peace, and what role can the international community and civil society play in rebuilding a sustainable future for Syria?
Oil fires started by Islamic State in northern Iraq have now been burning for months, exacerbating an already serious humanitarian crisis, but right now nobody seems to be monitoring their impact on the ground.
Discussion on the environemntal dimensions of military peace-keeping operations. This chapter first appeared in Governance, Natural Resources, and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding.
Thirty governments spoke on the draft principles on environmental protection following conflicts proposed by the International Law Commission during a UN General Assembly Sixth Committee debate. This report covers who said what and why.
Blog examining post-2011 efforts to strengthen the legal framework protecting the environment in relation to armed conflicts.
With new legal principles on the table governing obligations for the remediation of toxic remnants of war, and to ensure data sharing on environmental risks, we take a look at the case of depleted uranium use in Iraq. The US and UK were reluctant to accept responsibility for clearance, and differed markedly on data sharing and cooperation with the Iraqi authorities and UN system.
PAX and ICBUW | Targets of Opportunity: Analysis of the use of depleted uranium by A-10s in the 2003 Iraq War
Analysis of the locations where US forces fired depleted uranium weapons in the 2003 Iraq War which revealed its widespread use in urban areas and against non-armoured targets.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and toxics has presented the findings of his report on the effects of hazardous substances on the lives of children around the world to the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council. He argued that States should take responsibility for cleaning-up of the toxic remnants of war and provide medical aid to affected communities and individuals afterwards.
Lack of access to safe water in the war-torn country is driving migration and disease and pollution, say hydrologists and humanitarian groups.
PAX report Scorched Earth and Charred Lives shows a sharp increase in the number of makeshift refineries in Syria’s oil rich Deir ez-Zor governorate, in the past four years, with the most recent analysis based on satellite images from June 2016. There are likely tens of thousands of makeshift refineries in the region, in which adults and an alarming number of children work.
PAX | Scorched earth and charred lives – human health and environmental risks of civilian-operated makeshift oil refineries in Syria
Using satellite analysis, PAX identified a massive increase in artisanal oil refining, a practice that threatens the health of workers – many of them children – and the environment of local communities.
Nine new principles proposed by the UN’s International Law Commission on environmental protection after conflicts have been reviewed and modified by commission members. This blog takes a look at the revised draft principles and assesses their potential contribution to environmental and civilian protection.
This UN Environment Assembly resolution helped reaffirm UN Environment’s mandate to work on conflicts and was a sign of the growing international interest in addressing the environmental dimensions of armed conflicts.
Water scarcity in Yemen which has been exacerbated by climate change, may be a critical factor underlying the country’s instability, and prolonging and worsening its conflict.
The mission to Iraq’s Mosul Dam proved that there is a growing need for UNEP to be integrated in the humanitarian world. The environment lies at the very heart of many of the world’s most devastating humanitarian disasters.
This panel discussion sought to promote shared understandings of how the donor community and international civil society can support a newly peaceful Colombia to embark on a renewed path of sustainability for its long-term security.
The International Law Commission has just published its third report on the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts (PERAC). Its Special Rapporteur is trying to distil state practice, and the norms from disparate bodies of law, into a set of draft principles that capture how States, their militaries and international organisations should address the environmental impact and legacy of armed conflict.
This report, which is aimed at militaries, summarises the twelve principles of the Ecosystem Approach into four steps of a Rapid Ecological Assessment for the areas that armed forces are deployed to.
The passage of a wide-ranging resolution on the environmental and humanitarian consequences of armed conflicts at UNEA last month has helped to affirm that progress on this oft neglected issue may at last be possible. This blog explores why this is an auspicious time for work on conflict and the environment; how the resolution could bring together civil society, and what states and UNEP could do to facilitate this.
The third report of the ILC’s Special Rapporteur proposed a number of principles related to post-conflict environmental measures, by necessity these placed a greater reliance on the practice of states and international organisations than those proposed during conflicts.
After five months of negotiations, a resolution from Ukraine on the protection of the environment in areas affected by armed conflict has been approved by consensus at the second meeting of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) in Nairobi. The resolution is a sign of growing international interest in conflict and the environment, read our analysis here.
What might reparations for the illegal exploitation of natural resources in armed conflict look like? This question may soon be answered by the International Court of Justice in the final episode of its long-running Armed Activities Case. Eliana Cusato considers the main legal findings of the ICJ in its landmark judgement.
The Sustainable Development Goals fail to fully articulate the linkages between armed conflict and the environment, this blog examines why and discusses the importance of addressing the environment throughout the cycle of conflicts if countries are to deliver on the 2030 Agenda.
A major multi-year project to document environmental policy and practice from conflict zones around the world in order to create a foundation for the field of environmental peacebuilding.
Amidst the urgency of the humanitarian response to support those feeling Syria, the environmental footprint of these population surges has been less visible but, as Jordan is discovering, failing to address the impact of migration during response and recovery could have serious health, environmental and political consequences.
An influential report from Colombia’s Departamento Nacional de Planeación outlining the environmental dimensions of Colombia’s conflict and the peace process.
The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) was established after the 1991 Gulf War. Its aim was to not only help neighbouring states recover from the personal and financial losses inflicted during the war, but also to help repair the environmental damage caused. With protection for the environment in armed conflict under increasing scrutiny, it seems useful to re-examine how this mechanism worked.
Colombia’s environment has suffered widespread and severe damage as a result of half a century of armed conflict. With a peace agreement with FARC on the table, the government has been reviewing the financial costs of the damage – and the economic and environmental benefits of peace.
The devastation wrought upon Syria has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians, wounding many more and displacing millions across the region and beyond. They have left behind cities turned to rubble, ravaged towns and barren lands scarred by fighting. To mark the 5th anniversary we propose five priorities to address the damage it has caused to Syria’s environment.
A global study on countries’ environmental performance suggests that those affected by armed conflicts are among the worst performers across a range of environmental benchmarks, this blog takes a look at the results for 2016.
The question of whether a healthy environment is a human right has been occupying the minds of legal experts and governments since the 1980s. Now it is increasingly a question of not whether this is a right but instead how these rights could be operationalised to better protect people and the environment they depend on.
Three resolutions on conflicts have been tabled ahead of the second meeting of the UN Environment Assembly but the negotiations so far have revealed major differences in opinion between states on the role of UN Environment.
If we want to strengthen the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts, we need to define what we mean by “the environment” – is it a natural thing, a human thing, a cultural thing or is it all these things and more? How do different entities and legal regimes tackle this question, and what we should take into account when trying to define what it is we want to protect?
Unless the international community does more to protect and restore the environment from the impact of armed conflict, many countries will fail to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. This blog considers some of the SDG targets that are affected by conflict.
For new and ongoing conflicts across the world, the need to document their impact on civilians and the environment upon which they depend is encouraging the development of new research tools and methodologies. With civilians increasingly able to access the Internet and mobile networks, new opportunities are being created for the collection of environmental data, by experts and civilians alike.
As the United States, Russia, and others step up attacks on oil infrastructure captured by the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), there is concern over their direct and long-term environmental and public health impacts.
Contrary to other armed groups in Libya, the strategy behind the Islamic State’s attacks on oil facilities this week is not purely military. It is also part of a wider strategy calling for the disruption of the oil industry, not only to affect opposing regimes but also western society and the global economy.
How do weapons damage the environment? Should we be thinking only in terms of their direct impact, or should we focus on how weapons are used? Or do we also need to take a more holistic approach, one that considers their impacts on the environment from production to disposal?
Environmental protection and non-state armed groups: setting a place at the table for the elephant in the room
In this blog, Jonathan Somer begins to explore the terra incognita of current efforts to strengthen legal protection for the environment in relation to armed conflicts – the role of non-state armed groups, their policies and doctrine and why they must be part of any solution – in spite of the objections of some states.
Last week, quite a lot of governments said quite a lot of things about 2015’s report from the International Law Commission on legal protection for the environment during armed conflicts. This blog takes a look at what was said, who said it, why it matters and what it tells us about the hopes for more effective protection for the environment from the impact of armed conflict.
Environmental Mechanics explores how a more formalised system of post-conflict assistance could increase the protection of civilians and their environment, and help to create and strengthen norms against environmentally destructive military behaviours. In doing so it seeks to identify the legal principles and structures that could help such a system function, and examine the thematic areas where more focused legal and political debate would be important to achieve this goal.
The ongoing conflict in Syria is likely to have a disastrous impact on the environment and public health, according to a new study published by PAX. Four years of fighting has left cities in rubble and caused widespread damage to industrial sites, critical infrastructure and the oil industry.
ILPI | Report: Expert Meeting on the Protection of the Environment in times of Armed Conflict, Helsinki 2015
This workshop reviewed the findings of the empirical study by ILPI into the environmental dimensions of international and non-international armed conflicts.
PAX | Amidst the debris – a desktop study on the environmental and public health impact of Syria’s conflict:
This desktop analysis identifies four types of hazards – feasible scenarios in which the environmental impact of the conflict may have a direct and or long-term impact on the public health of the Syrian people.
This assessment seeks to identify all the potential environmental impacts of 2014’s Operation Protective Edge almost a year after it came to an end. Its findings are based on participatory research in which more than ten experts and almost a thousand Palestinians from the Gaza Strip participated.
Based on 30 years of ICRC work in urban conflict zones, this report warns that unless humanitarian agencies adopt a different approach to assisting urban populations in conflict, the human and social cost could be catastrophic, with the deterioration of critical infrastructure leaving people without essential services.
This report examines how the right to an adequate standard of living has been affected by the conduct of hostilities, particularly access to sufficient, safe, acceptable and affordable water for personal and domestic use.
The first tentative moves to strengthen legal protection for the environment before, during and after armed conflict are underway. We take a look at a scientifically unrepresentative sample of governments to see who’s progressive, and who would rather the international community stuck with a status quo that does little to protect the environment or the civilians who depend on it.
Revised and reissued US Army doctrinal manual on environmental protection in operations, taking into account forces health protection, the sustainability of operations and host nation relations.
This report found that insurmountable domestic legal barriers were creating environmental injustice.
The environmental costs of the ongoing Ukraine conflict are still to be fully quantified but an EU-UN-World Bank needs assessment has called for US$30m to fund urgent environmental recovery over the next two years. With UNEP still unable to assess or begin restoring the damage on the ground due to insecurity, this sum, which already far exceeds that for UXO management is only likely to grow.
The deliberate or inadvertent damage or destruction of industrial facilities during conflict has the potential to cause severe environmental damage and create acute and long-term risks to civilians. Can such attacks ever be justified, particularly when the consequences of attacks may be difficult to anticipate with any degree of certainty?
The Vatican’s latest encyclical ‘Care for Our Common Home’ has triggered much rejoicing from the environmental movement, and justifiably so, coming as it does in the run up to the latest round of climate change negotiations. But in questioning the global economic order and its depredations on the planetary environment, Pope Francis has also sought to communicate a wide range of problems that have blocked progress on environmental protection.
How much of a threat do cyber attacks on industrial infrastructure pose to civilians and the environment? More to the point, how do we judge the environmental acceptability of new forms of warfare, or current practices for that matter? Doug Weir takes a look.
The second report from the ILC’s Special Rapporteur proposed four draft principles aimed at minimising harm during conflict, and one on the agreement of protected areas before conflicts, or at their outset.
This report focuses on environmental governance in Libya and was prepared as part of an EU project intended to create a shared environmental information system in the European neighbourhood.
Aerial use of Glyphosate herbicides in Colombia prove too controversial after WHO findings on cancer risks.
Early indications suggest that the conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas region has resulted in a number of civilian health risks, and potentially long-term damage to its environment. In order to mitigate these long-term risks, international and domestic agencies will have to find ways to coordinate their efforts on documenting, assessing and addressing the damage.
The TRWP was recently asked to help identify a substance associated with partially detonated barrel bombs in Syria. While the irritant fumes and pink powdery residue appeared to be from TNT and not a chemical weapon, the health risks from exposure to this common explosive are increasingly well understood and should be taken into account when examining the civilian impact of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
The World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified the world’s most widely used herbicide Roundup as probably carcinogenic in humans. Roundup is widely used in US supported efforts to destroy poppy and coca fields in Colombia’s long running internal conflict and the decision will add to existing concerns over the health impact of aerial spraying.
Military personnel may come across a number of natural and anthropogenic environmental health risks during training, domestic operations and overseas deployment. The response has been to seek to integrate data on environmental risks and exposures into health monitoring programmes. Could these systems help inform approaches aimed at monitoring the risks to civilians from toxic remnants of war?
While Iraq is still recovering from the environmental impact of both Gulf wars, it now faces new environmental problems caused by the current conflict against the Islamic State. Since the uprising began in June 2014, fierce battles have taken place in and around cities and industrial areas, affecting the already precarious environmental situation. Wim Zwijnenburg considers the risks and response.
This study found that the conflict had exacerbated existing pollution in the Donbas region and caused further environmental damage and loss.
Environment, People, Law | Military conflict in eastern Ukraine – civilization challenges to humanity
Report by the Ukrainian NGO Environment People Law which was one of the first to raise the alarm about the environmental consequences of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Towards an integrated approach to the material legacies of war: landmines, explosive remnants of war and environmental contamination
This blog examines how mine action became decoupled from earlier, more holistic approaches to addressing the material legacies of wars, which included environmental harm, and whether it is time for this to be reappraised.
The widespread damage to urban areas in the latest conflict in Gaza has generated a range of toxic remnants of war, from debris, to sewage and water contamination to the residues of weapons, there is a pressing need for an environmental assessment in the affected areas.
When considering how norms could be developed to ensure that conflict pollution is properly addressed, it is worth examining peacetime norms and standards for military contamination. This blogs takes a look at the approach taken in Australia.
A report from Oslo’s International Law and Policy Institute commissioned by the Norwegian government as part of the ICRC Pledge 1290 from the 2011 Red Cross conference to: “highlight the relevance of the existing legal framework for the protection of the natural environment in contemporary armed conflicts”.
Pollution Politics examines how the weakness of current international humanitarian law allows the generation of conflict pollution that can impact both civilian health and the environment for long after the cessation of hostilities. The report defines toxic remnants of war, explores how they are created and argues that a new mechanism is needed to prevent and remedy environmental damage, to increase accountability and improve post-conflict response and assistance.
Syria’s oil industry has begun to be targeted by the US. Military policies indicate that the environmental consequences of the strategy are low on the agenda but the move looks set to have direct and indirect impacts on Syria’s environment and people.
NATO’s presence in Afghanistan included 1200 properties, from major airbases to small forward operating bases. Environmental oversight was mixed and the Afghan national authorities had limited capacity for investigating contamination or other forms of damage. Furthermore, the bilateral agreements between Afghanistan and major NATO contributing nations provided very limited scope for environmental redress.
Conflicts over water have long haunted the Middle East. Yet in the current fighting in Iraq, the major dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are seen not just as strategic targets but as powerful weapons of war.
This briefing examined a range of toxic remnants of war that could impact installations in Afghanistan as a result of the drawdown. It also considered current agreements in respect to environmental liability, identifying a policy gap that could unjustly impact Afghan citizens.
This blog examines the health and environmental risks of the debris and pulverised building materials created by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and finds that very little research has been done into this ubiquitous form of conflict pollution.
The lack of a clear strategy to deal with the legacy of the use of depleted uranium (DU) munitions in Iraq, from either the Coalition Forces, the Coalition Provisional Authority or the Iraqi government, has resulted in the continued exposure of civilians to DU.
This blog investigates the worrying lack of regulation for the Private Military and Security Contractors who have played an increasingly significant role in recent conflicts. Lack of regulation and oversight has lead to serious incidences of environmental harm and with it harm to the health of military personnel, contractors and communities.
Report covers the initial phase of the work of the International Law Commission on the Protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts, between 2011-2014.
This blog considers the use and importance of screening systems for chemicals to identify potential health and environmental risks, in doing so it reviews examples from the civilian and military sphere but finds that standards don’t fully consider the protection of civilians.
This report looked at the ways in which natural resource management—the institutions, policies and practices that govern land, water, forests, minerals, hydrocarbons—interact with violent conflict in Afghanistan.
This book offered signposts towards achieving Libyan environmental sustainability, finding that Libya was poised to become a world leader in sustainability should it have chosen to.
Part of a long-term project between the US, Sweden and Finland to develop and promote common environmental standards for deployed militaries.
The proceedings from European Conference of Defence and the Environment cover a range of environmental issues associated with military preparedness and training, as well as the management of legacy issues on defence estates.
IKV Pax Christi | In a State of Uncertainty: impact and implications of the use of depleted uranium in Iraq
The aim of this report is to provide greater clarity on the impact that the use of DU has had on Iraqi society; in doing so it will document the persistent uncertainty that continues to affect the daily lives of Iraqi civilians.
The broad objectives of this study were to: highlight the longer-term effects and implications of current developmental and social trends and challenges affecting the Gaza Strip; raise awareness of these both locally and internationally; and, inform the strategic programming of the UN.
Harvard International Human Rights Clinic | Explosive Situation: Qaddafi’s Abandoned Weapons and the Threat to Libya’s Civilians
This report focuses on the impact on civilians of weapons that were once part of Qaddafi’s arsenal, but were not used in the conflict and are now held by various parties.
In 2011, the 31st Conference of the Red Cross considered proposals to enhance the protection of people and the environment from the impact of conflict, the proposals were questioned by some governments but work began to follow up on the inadequate legal framework.
This report shows that peacekeeping operations not only have important natural resource implications, as well as significant impacts on the environment, but also that natural resources are often a fundamental aspect of conflict resolution, livelihoods and confidence-building at the local level.
The report reveals in a striking manner the linkages between environment and security in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Workshop report from one of a series of conferences held to review the state of legal protection for the environment following the 2011 ICRC conference.
2011 report submitted to the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent strengthening legal protection for victims of armed conflict. The report includes suggestions for new approaches to reducing civilian harm from conflict pollution and environmental damage.
This report contains a compilation of information from national and international experts and from documentation available on marine and coastal biodiversity in Libya. It proposes and describes sites of conservation interest along the Libyan coast.
UNEP | Protecting the environment during armed conflict: an inventory and analysis of international law
In 2009 UNEP, the ICRC and the Environmental Law Institute sought to catalogue and analyse the legal framework protecting the environment in relation to armed conflict.
Provides an overview of the context, importance and use of natural resources, their conditions, trends and linkages to regional or global factors. The report also reveals how Afghanistan’s natural resources – if sustainably managed – could provide the basis for future economic growth and stability.
RAND | Green Warriors – Army Environmental Considerations for Contingency Operations from Planning Through Post-Conflict
RAND’s research showed that environmental concerns can have far-reaching and significant impacts on the US Army, both direct and indirect, especially in terms of cost, current operations, soldier health, diplomatic relations, reconstruction activities, and the ultimate success of the operation or the broader mission. Some evidence suggests that environmental problems may have even contributed to insurgency in Iraq.
This guidebook gives operational planners the necessary tools to incorporate environmental considerations throughout the life cycle of the operation. Failure to integrate environmental considerations into operational- and tactical-level planning increases the risk to the health and safety of military personnel and civilian non-combatants.
An assessment of the capacity of Iraq’s environment ministry in 2006 found it to be in good shape but made recommendations to improve its work.
This assessment identified the need for a priority programme of site assessment and emergency intervention at contaminated sites, and follow up work by UNEP and the Ministry of Environment to address the identified toxic waste on the worst of the first five sites has commenced.
UNEP’s post-conflict environmental assessment illuminates Afghanistan’s current levels of degradation, and sets forth a path that the country can take towards sustainable development.
The aim of this desk study was to outline the state of the environment and identify major areas of environmental damage requiring urgent attention.
This document summarises the results of environmental assessments of the 1991 Gulf War undertaken by IUCN-the World Conservation Union and collaborators during the period 1991 to 1993.
A Greenpeace study prepared for the a meeting on a “Fith Geneva Convention” in London, May 1991.
@medburnbook Not a humanitarian priority.
The National Environmental Licensing Agency in #Colombia has tried to obtain the compulsory approval of farming communities for aerial coca spraying through online consultations - in areas on lockdown and without internet...
Colombia's crumbling drug policy: farmers thwart attempt to resume aerial spraying of coca
The Colombian government thought it could outsmart farmers by taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to resume the aerial spraying of coca. Turn...
2020s @UN SG report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict highlights the connection between #environmental and civilian harm in conflicts, and how they increase the vulnerability of populations to #climatechange
https://t.co/Rr2KY8gZT8 #LEAD2PROTECT #POCWEEK2020 #PERAC
@medburnbook Not a humanitarian priority.
The National Environmental Licensing Agency in #Colombia has tried to obtain the compulsory approval of farming communities for aerial coca spraying through online consultations - in areas on lockdown and without internet...
Colombia's crumbling drug policy: farmers thwart attempt to resume aerial spraying of coca
The Colombian government thought it could outsmart farmers by taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to resume the aerial spraying of coca. Turn...
2020s @UN SG report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict highlights the connection between #environmental and civilian harm in conflicts, and how they increase the vulnerability of populations to #climatechange
https://t.co/Rr2KY8gZT8 #LEAD2PROTECT #POCWEEK2020 #PERAC