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.
Biodiversity hotspots cover just 1.4% of the planet’s surface, yet 80% of major armed conflicts between 1950 and 2000 occurred in these areas. With the recent release of a UN report stressing the direct relationship between biodiversity and human rights, Alex Reid asks whether it’s time for us to reassess our understanding of the links between armed conflict, human rights and conservation.
Everyone recognises the importance of environmental mainstreaming. It’s a problem that is particularly acute for conflict and the environment, where the environment is rarely prioritised before, during or after conflicts. In turn this influences how we frame the issues we work on, and it also influences how we work, often content with modest progress from one project to the next. The barriers we face are shared, and systemic, which begs the question – do we need to change the system, together?
Thirty governments spoke on the draft principles on environmental protection following conflicts proposed by the International Law Commission during a UN General Assembly Sixth Committee debate. This report covers who said what and why.
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.