Calculating the environmental benefits of peace in Colombia

Calculating the environmental benefits of peace in Colombia

Colombia’s environment has suffered widespread and severe damage as a result of half a century of armed conflict. With a peace agreement with FARC on the table, the government has been reviewing the financial costs of the damage – and the economic and environmental benefits of peace. By its own calculations, an end to the conflict could see the government saving US$2.2bn a year in addressing avoidable environmental damage. But a sustainable environment will first require a sustainable peace. The instability that led to Colombia’s 50-year conflict has its roots […]

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Lifecycle versus the law – defining the environmental impact of weapons

Lifecycle versus the law – defining the environmental impact of weapons

This blog considers the extent to which we can use international humanitarian law (IHL) to define or judge the environmental impact and acceptability of weapons. 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? During the debate among states over the International Law Commission’s (ILC) ongoing study on strengthening protection for the environment […]

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Colombia halts aerial coca eradication after WHO Glyphosate cancer ruling

Colombia halts aerial coca eradication after WHO Glyphosate cancer ruling

As predicted on this blog in March, the classification of the commonly used herbicide Glyphosate as a Group 2A carcinogen by the WHO’s International Agency for Cancer (IARC) has placed pressure on the Colombian government to end aerial coca eradication. In a ruling by Colombia’s National Narcotics Council on May 14th, the government elected to end the long running and controversial programme. The council, which oversees national drug policy, had been considering a recommendation from the health minister made in response to IARC’s decision. A previous precautionary ruling from Colombia’s […]

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WHO finds that Glyphosate is probably carcinogenic – implications for Plan Colombia

WHO finds that Glyphosate is probably carcinogenic – implications for Plan Colombia

On the 20th March 2015, the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) 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. Based in Lyon, IARC conducts regular reviews of the peer-reviewed literature on chemicals and occupational practices to examine whether they are carcinogenic or can lead to […]

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The UK’s use of Agent Orange in Malaysia

The UK’s use of Agent Orange in Malaysia

The use of Agent Orange in Viet Nam during the 1960s and 1970s is a notorious example of widespread and purposeful environmental damage that has subsequently impacted the health of troops and civilians. Less well known is the role that the UK played in developing Agent Orange based herbicides, which included deploying them in Malaysia in the 1950s. Andy Garrity investigates. The use of Agent Orange (AO) in Viet Nam by the US military in the 1960s and 70s is a well documented case of deliberate environmental destruction. The use […]

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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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Toxic Remnants of War: Viet Nam to the present day

Toxic Remnants of War: Viet Nam to the present day

The TRW Project aims to assess, through scientific desk studies, the potential of common military toxic substances (for example explosives or heavy metals) to cause public health and environmental problems. The remediation of dioxin contamination from defoliant spraying during the Viet Nam War has only recently received funding for a few sites and health assistance to affected Vietnamese is still not universally agreed. Therefore, the problem of dioxin remains a relevant example of military-origin contamination. In this post, the origins of the dioxin problem are briefly examined, as is a […]

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