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?