States back further progress on conflict and environment in UN legal debate

States back further progress on conflict and environment in UN legal debate

Earlier this month, States in New York debated the latest report from the International Law Commission’s (ILC) ongoing study into the “protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts” (PERAC). This blog takes a look at what States said, considers some of the key themes that are emerging, and the future of the ILC’s work on PERAC following the imminent departure of the topic’s Special Rapporteur Dr Marie Jacobsson. The ILC added PERAC to its programme of work in 2013, in part thanks to a recommendation in a 2009 […]

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UN Special Rapporteur calls for action on TRW to protect children

UN Special Rapporteur calls for action on TRW to protect children

This month, Baskut Tuncak, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and toxics, presented the findings of his report on the effects of hazardous substances on the lives of children around the world to the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council. His conclusions were bold and brave for their implications on conflict: States should take responsibility for cleaning-up of the toxic remnants of war and provide medical aid to affected communities and individuals afterwards. Environmental pollution as result of warfare is a topic of growing of concern among […]

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UN lawyers present revised post-conflict environmental protection principles

UN lawyers present revised post-conflict environmental protection principles

What should parties to a conflict and international organisations do to help protect the environment and those who depend on it from the effects of war? Nine new principles proposed by the UN’s International Law Commission seek to answer this question by distilling existing law and practice on everything from information sharing and the rights of indigenous peoples to tackling the toxic remnants of war. This blog takes a look at the new draft principles and assesses their potential contribution to environmental and civilian protection. Back in July, we published […]

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UN legal experts consider principles guiding environmental protection after conflicts

UN legal experts consider principles guiding environmental protection after conflicts

The International Law Commission has just published its third report on the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts (PERAC). Its Special Rapporteur is charged with the unenviable task of trying to distil state practice, and the norms from disparate bodies of law, into a set of draft principles that capture how States, their militaries and international organisations should address the environmental impact and legacy of armed conflict. This blog takes a look at the process, and considers the Special Rapporteur’s latest draft principles. UNEP’s 2009 report on […]

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Military health surveillance – lessons for post-conflict civilian health monitoring

Military health surveillance – lessons for post-conflict civilian health monitoring

Military personnel may come across a number of natural and anthropogenic environmental health risks during training, domestic operations and overseas deployment. Veterans groups and politicians have placed militaries under significant political pressure when exposures have been linked to negative health outcomes. The response has been to seek to integrate data on environmental risks and exposures into health monitoring programmes. Could these systems, and the data they contain, help inform approaches aimed at monitoring the risks to civilians from toxic remnants of war? Vietnam to Kuwait, recording environmental health risks Maintaining […]

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TRW down under: The Australian Defence Force’s approach to contaminated land management

TRW down under: The Australian Defence Force’s approach to contaminated land management

The Australian Defence Force has a comprehensive management plan for TRW sites and practices and the Department of Defence recognises its responsibility to remediate sites contaminated by its military activities. Andy Garrity examines their remediation schemes and considers principles and practices relevant to post-conflict TRW management. The Australian Department of Defence (ADoD) operate a large scale Environmental Remediation Programme (ERP) to tackle the environmental legacy of operations that has been amassed during the last 70 years, both domestically and overseas. The Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) ERP was initiated in 2003, […]

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ISAF’s environmental legacy in Afghanistan requires greater scrutiny

ISAF’s environmental legacy in Afghanistan requires greater scrutiny

Since 2001, Afghanistan has seen intensive military activities from a number of countries that have contributed to the ISAF stabilisation force. With the drawdown of ISAF forces and a number of base closures under way, Aneaka Kellay investigates the toxic remnants of ISAF’s operations and who is currently liable for the clean-up. Introduction ISAF has been deployed in Afghanistan since 2001. In August 2003, NATO assumed command of the operation and its mandate has been repeatedly extended by the UN Security Council. During the 2010 Lisbon Summit, NATO agreed to […]

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Report: Pollution Politics – power, accountability and toxic remnants of war

Report: Pollution Politics – power, accountability and toxic remnants of war

In the first of two major reports, Aneaka Kellay 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 argues that a new mechanism is needed to prevent and remedy environmental damage, to increase accountability and improve post-conflict response and assistance.  The executive summary and recommendations are presented below, and the full text can be downloaded from here. Executive summary and recommendations Introduction Humanity’s dependency on the […]

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Holding private military contractors to account for toxic remnants of war

Holding private military contractors to account for toxic remnants of war

The rapid expansion of the role of the private military security industry during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan poses fundamental questions for the regulation of future wars, and for efforts to strengthen the protection of the environment during and after conflict. While the context of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars differs from much contemporary warfare, the Private Military Security Company (PMSC) industry has grown to such an extent that it would be unwise to ignore its role in future conflicts. The 2003 Iraq War saw the most significant use […]

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