A brief overview of international legal and policy initiatives relating to conflict and the environment, with timeline and further suggested reading.
Since 2009, there has been renewed international interest in efforts to enhance the weak legal framework intended to protect the environment in relation to armed conflicts (PERAC). The topic is currently under consideration by the UN’s International Law Commission, it is being addressed by the International Committee of the Red Cross, and has also been the feature of resolutions at the UN Environment Assembly. Meanwhile, wider questions around environmental security are increasingly on the agenda of the UN Security Council.
Recommendations for States and UN Environment for the implementation of UNEP/EA.3/Res.1: ‘Pollution mitigation and control in areas affected by armed conflict of terrorism’.
Environmental Mechanics explores how a more formalised system of post-conflict assistance could increase the protection of civilians and their environment, and help to create and strengthen norms against environmentally destructive military behaviours. In doing so it seeks to identify the legal principles and structures that could help such a system function, and examine the thematic areas where more focused legal and political debate would be important to achieve this goal.
Pollution Politics examines how the weakness of current international humanitarian law allows the generation of conflict pollution that can impact both civilian health and the environment for long after the cessation of hostilities. The report defines toxic remnants of war, explores how they are created and argues that a new mechanism is needed to prevent and remedy environmental damage, to increase accountability and improve post-conflict response and assistance.
The Global Pact for the Environment and the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts
It looks likely that an initiative to create a legally binding global agreement enshrining the principles of environmental law will go ahead. The draft text includes a principle on the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts; this blog takes a look at how the Pact could influence the ongoing legal debate.
With a growing number of individuals and organisations working on environmental security, and on a range of international, regional and domestic initiatives, it’s a good time to examine whether we are working effectively. This blog considers why greater civil society collaboration on environmental security is not only timely but vital.
Since 2015, a number of different actors have published data on the environmental impact of the conflict in Ukraine. Doug Weir and Nickolai Denisov take a look at the different methodologies that have been used to monitor environmental harm, their findings, and what the studies tell us about how monitoring could be improved.
The plenary sessions of UNEA-3 saw a number of states highlight the environmental impact of armed conflicts and terrorism. These had been encouraged by the negotiations on a resolution on the topic at the assembly. The plenary statements were a reflection of national experiences and perspectives on conflict and the environment; Foeke Postma examines who said what, and why.
After months of negotiations, governments at the UN Environment Assembly have finally agreed a consensus resolution on conflict pollution that was tabled by Iraq. It’s the first UN resolution to focus on the health and environmental risks posed by toxic remnants of war, read our analysis.
After four months of consultations and negotiations, it’s decision time for governments over Iraq’s UN Environment Assembly resolution on conflict pollution. However with deep divisions on show between states on the role of the environment in matters of peace and security, Doug Weir suggests that it is still unclear what will happen when negotiations begin again tomorrow.
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.
33 NGOs and 12 experts mark the UN’s 6th November #EnvConflictDay 2017 by releasing a joint statement calling for progress on conflict and the environment.
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.
UNEA-3 | Resolution: Pollution mitigation and control in areas affected by armed conflict or terrorism
This resolution was triggered by the widespread pollution caused by Islamic State in Iraq, it sought to draw attention to wide range of factors that cause pollution in conflict and strengthen the response by states and UN Environment to the health and environmental risks posed by the toxic remnants of war.
Stahn et al | Environmental Protection and Transitions from Conflict to Peace: Clarifying Norms, Principles, and Practices
This open access book covers a range of environmental issues common to post-conflict settings and explores legal and policy principles relevant to enhancing environmental protection.
Report and recommendations from the High-Level Panel on Water and Peace on the ways to address water security throughout the cycle of conflicts.
With 2017’s UN Environment Assembly focusing on the theme of pollution, UN Environment’s Civil Society Unit invited the TRW Project to contribute an extended article on conflict pollution to its long-running Perspectives series.
Blog examining post-2011 efforts to strengthen the legal framework protecting the environment in relation to armed conflicts.
This UN Environment Assembly resolution helped reaffirm UN Environment’s mandate to work on conflicts and was a sign of the growing international interest in addressing the environmental dimensions of armed conflicts.
The third report of the ILC’s Special Rapporteur proposed a number of principles related to post-conflict environmental measures, by necessity these placed a greater reliance on the practice of states and international organisations than those proposed during conflicts.
A major multi-year project to document environmental policy and practice from conflict zones around the world in order to create a foundation for the field of environmental peacebuilding.
ILPI | Report: Expert Meeting on the Protection of the Environment in times of Armed Conflict, Helsinki 2015
This workshop reviewed the findings of the empirical study by ILPI into the environmental dimensions of international and non-international armed conflicts.
Based on 30 years of ICRC work in urban conflict zones, this report warns that unless humanitarian agencies adopt a different approach to assisting urban populations in conflict, the human and social cost could be catastrophic, with the deterioration of critical infrastructure leaving people without essential services.
The second report from the ILC’s Special Rapporteur proposed four draft principles aimed at minimising harm during conflict, and one on the agreement of protected areas before conflicts, or at their outset.
A report from Oslo’s International Law and Policy Institute commissioned by the Norwegian government as part of the ICRC Pledge 1290 from the 2011 Red Cross conference to: “highlight the relevance of the existing legal framework for the protection of the natural environment in contemporary armed conflicts”.
Report covers the initial phase of the work of the International Law Commission on the Protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts, between 2011-2014.
Workshop report from one of a series of conferences held to review the state of legal protection for the environment following the 2011 ICRC conference.
2011 report submitted to the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent strengthening legal protection for victims of armed conflict. The report includes suggestions for new approaches to reducing civilian harm from conflict pollution and environmental damage.
UNEP | Protecting the environment during armed conflict: an inventory and analysis of international law
In 2009 UNEP, the ICRC and the Environmental Law Institute sought to catalogue and analyse the legal framework protecting the environment in relation to armed conflict.