Monitoring the monitors studying the Ukraine conflict’s environmental impact

Monitoring the monitors studying the Ukraine conflict’s environmental impact

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine is thought to have caused serious damage to the environment, and with it risks to human health, in what is a highly industrialised region. Since 2015, a number of different actors have published data on the environmental impact of the conflict. In this blog, Doug Weir and Nickolai Denisov take a look at the different methodologies that have been used by organisations to monitor environmental harm during the conflict, their findings, and what the studies from Ukraine tell us about how this work could be […]

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UN passes first ever resolution on conflict pollution

UN passes first ever resolution on conflict pollution

The United Nations Environment Assembly has adopted a resolution urging states to minimise and mitigate the health and environmental consequences of pollution caused by armed conflicts and terrorism. It is the first time that a UN decision has addressed the topic in such detail, and recognised the diverse means through which conflicts can generate or facilitate pollution. The resolution ‘Pollution mitigation and control in areas affected by armed conflict or terrorism’, which was tabled by Iraq, and sponsored by Ukraine and Norway, was adopted at the third meeting of the United Nations […]

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Tension mounts in Nairobi over UNEA-3 conflict pollution resolution

Tension mounts in Nairobi over UNEA-3 conflict pollution resolution

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. The third meeting of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-3) formally starts tomorrow. UNEA is intended to become the leading UN forum on environmental matters, and this year it is focusing on the health and environmental […]

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The environmental consequences of the use of armed drones

The environmental consequences of the use of armed drones

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. Reaching Critical Will invited Doug Weir and Elizabeth Minor to consider the environmental dimensions of the use of drone warfare for a recent publication ‘The humanitarian impact of drones’. They found the literature to be largely absent of considerations over the environmental and derived humanitarian impacts […]

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ISIL’s scorched earth policy in Iraq: options for its victims to be recognised under international law

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? This post by Eliana Cusato argues that, whereas these issues raise fundamental legal and practical challenges, environmental degradation associated with armed conflict should be regarded as a serious concern by the international […]

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Environment and Emergencies Forum seeks to improve humanitarian response to conflict-pollution

Environment and Emergencies Forum seeks to improve humanitarian response to conflict-pollution

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 […]

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London conference highlights opportunities to improve environmental response to conflict pollution in Iraq

London conference highlights opportunities to improve environmental response to conflict pollution in Iraq

As the dust settles from the battle to recapture Mosul, and the urgent humanitarian crisis reaches its peak with millions of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in desperate need of medical help, shelter food and water, Iraq is beginning to reflect on the extent of the damage inflicted by the battle against the so-called Islamic State (IS). Beyond the immediate needs of IDPs, it is becoming clear that recovery and reconstruction will be a huge challenge, requiring billions of dollars to rebuild the country. One element that will need to be addressed writes […]

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Whose responsibility is it anyway? Environmental obligations in the nuclear ban treaty

Whose responsibility is it anyway? Environmental obligations in the nuclear ban treaty

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. But in addition to the mechanics of how this can best be achieved, there lies a deeper question – who is […]

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Understanding gender, conflict and the environment

Understanding gender, conflict and the environment

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: ‘further recognising specific negative effects of environmental degradation on women and the need to apply a gender perspective with respect to the environment and armed conflicts’. Alexandria Reid suggests that the reference itself is unquestionably a positive step. But to effectively incorporate this gender perspective in future policy, we need to do […]

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Why our human rights depend on turning conflict into conservation

Why our human rights depend on turning conflict into conservation

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. This figure should be striking, but the connections between the environment and conflict continue to be overlooked. 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. In 2010, Lord Robert May asked an unusual question for a […]

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