Momentum continues to grow in UN study on laws protecting environment in conflict

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.

The environmental consequences of the use of armed drones

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?

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.

Environment and Emergencies Forum seeks to improve humanitarian response to conflict pollution

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.

How armed conflicts impact the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions

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.

Whose responsibility is it anyway? Environmental obligations in the nuclear ban treaty

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.