What states said on conflict and the environment at the UN last week and why it matters

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.

Which states are progressive on conflict and the environment?

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.

Ukraine conflict – 24 months of urgent environmental recovery will cost $30m

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.

Collateral damage estimates and the acceptability of attacks on industrial sites

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?

Vatican encyclical: “War always does grave harm to the environment”

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.