We need to define “the environment” to protect it from armed conflict

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?

Using citizen science to assess environmental damage in the Syrian 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.  

Environmental protection and non-state armed groups: setting a place at the table for the elephant in the room

In this blog, Jonathan Somer begins to explore the terra incognita of current efforts to strengthen legal protection for the environment in relation to armed conflicts – the role of non-state armed groups, their policies and doctrine and why they must be part of any solution – in spite of the objections of some states.

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.

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?