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.
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?
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.
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.
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.