A brief introduction to the relationship between military activities and environmental harm, with suggested further reading.
In spite of growing awareness among militaries of the need to reduce the environmental impact of their operations, whether domestically, during peacekeeping operations or during wartime, the environmental bootprint of military operations remains considerable. Of particular concern are the legacy issues associated with military installations, as well as the exemptions from environmental oversight that militaries often enjoy.
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.
There is a war being waged against whales, and it is being fought with noise, and it has left scientists and conservationists concerned about the potential impact of military noise on the wider marine ecosystem as a whole. Are naval activities bound by environmental norms, or will the damage continue in the name of national security?
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.
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.
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.
How do weapons damage the environment? Should we be thinking only in terms of their direct impact, or should we focus on how weapons are used? Or do we also need to take a more holistic approach, one that considers their impacts on the environment from production to disposal?
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.
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?
How much of a threat do cyber attacks on industrial infrastructure pose to civilians and the environment? More to the point, how do we judge the environmental acceptability of new forms of warfare, or current practices for that matter? Doug Weir takes a look.
Aerial use of Glyphosate herbicides in Colombia prove too controversial after WHO findings on cancer risks.
The World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified the world’s most widely used herbicide Roundup as probably carcinogenic in humans. Roundup is widely used in US supported efforts to destroy poppy and coca fields in Colombia’s long running internal conflict and the decision will add to existing concerns over the health impact of aerial spraying.
Military personnel may come across a number of natural and anthropogenic environmental health risks during training, domestic operations and overseas deployment. The response has been to seek to integrate data on environmental risks and exposures into health monitoring programmes. Could these systems help inform approaches aimed at monitoring the risks to civilians from toxic remnants of war?
When considering how norms could be developed to ensure that conflict pollution is properly addressed, it is worth examining peacetime norms and standards for military contamination. This blogs takes a look at the approach taken in Australia.
Great piece from @jonletman on the threat a new US Marine base poses to marine and terrestrial biodiversity around #Okinawa's Oura Bay, which is home to more than 5,300 species of corals, fish and invertebrates, and to endangered dugong #military
US Military Base Threatens Biodiversity in Okinawa
Construction of the airbase is moving ahead despite decades of protest and certain environmental devastation.
“I think there are a lot of people out there who have symptoms and just think it’s stress. No one even thinks about lead or other toxic metals.” Is chronic lead exposure in #military personnel far more common than current surveillance suggests? https://t.co/cVDs7yiWrC @SRtoxics
This report looks at the environmental impact of peace operations and how the UN has responded, including through policies and guidelines, dedicated staff, and training material. In particular, it assesses the challenges the Department of Field Support faces in implementing its Environment Strategy.
The military has been quicker than some to grasp the problems that climate change might cause, but until recently, this hadn’t looked closer to home, and at their many installations around the world.
This series from Pro Publica sought to map toxic military sites on the continental US, investigated specific contaminants such as RDX and documented the environmental risks from practises such as outsourcing military clean-ups.
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.
EU chemicals legislation intended to protect human health and the environment is having an impact on military procurement within the EU and beyond. This report outlines the concerns of the European Defence Association over these regulations.
Discussion on the environemntal dimensions of military peace-keeping operations. This chapter first appeared in Governance, Natural Resources, and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding.
Revised and reissued US Army doctrinal manual on environmental protection in operations, taking into account forces health protection, the sustainability of operations and host nation relations.
Part of a long-term project between the US, Sweden and Finland to develop and promote common environmental standards for deployed militaries.
The proceedings from European Conference of Defence and the Environment cover a range of environmental issues associated with military preparedness and training, as well as the management of legacy issues on defence estates.
This report shows that peacekeeping operations not only have important natural resource implications, as well as significant impacts on the environment, but also that natural resources are often a fundamental aspect of conflict resolution, livelihoods and confidence-building at the local level.
RAND | Green Warriors – Army Environmental Considerations for Contingency Operations from Planning Through Post-Conflict
RAND’s research showed that environmental concerns can have far-reaching and significant impacts on the US Army, both direct and indirect, especially in terms of cost, current operations, soldier health, diplomatic relations, reconstruction activities, and the ultimate success of the operation or the broader mission. Some evidence suggests that environmental problems may have even contributed to insurgency in Iraq.
This guidebook gives operational planners the necessary tools to incorporate environmental considerations throughout the life cycle of the operation. Failure to integrate environmental considerations into operational- and tactical-level planning increases the risk to the health and safety of military personnel and civilian non-combatants.