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?

Iraq tables conflict pollution resolution ahead of December’s UN Environment Assembly

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.

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.

Do the ILC’s draft principles on remnants and data sharing reflect state practice?

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.

What the environmental legacy of the Gulf War should teach us

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.