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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Momentum continues to grow in UN study on laws protecting environment in conflict

Momentum continues to grow in UN study on laws protecting environment in conflict

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. In this blog, Doug Weir reviews the latest annual discussion by states on the ongoing work of the Commission. Background The International Law Commission (ILC) is mandated by the UN with the progressive development and codification of international […]

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International community urged to address the environment in war to protect civilians

International community urged to address the environment in war to protect civilians

NGOs and leading experts have used the United Nation’s International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict to call for greater progress in efforts to protect people and the environment from the impact of warfare. Highlighting the ongoing conflicts in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen, the 33 organisations and 12 experts argue that conflict pollution, and damage to ecosystems and natural resources, pose immediate threats to human health and threaten reconstruction and peacebuilding. The signatories, which include humanitarian, environmental, legal and development organisations, as well […]

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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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Iraq tables conflict pollution resolution ahead of December’s UN Environment Assembly

Iraq tables conflict pollution resolution ahead of December’s UN Environment Assembly

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 (UNEA3). 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. UNEA was established in 2012 to replace UN Environment’s Governing Council, expanding its membership with the aim of seeking to better coordinate […]

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How armed conflicts impact the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions

How armed conflicts impact the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions

Since 1989, the Basel Convention, and later the Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, have played an important role in international efforts to minimise the health and environmental threats from chemicals and hazardous wastes. However, their implementation relies heavily on the ability of states to ensure robust domestic environmental governance. Armed conflicts and insecurity commonly disrupt the capacity of states to adequately respond to the pollution threats that may arise from them, and to oversee or implement environmental regulations. This blog examines how conflicts interact with the conventions, and how they challenge […]

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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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The nuclear ban treaty needs work if it’s to deliver on the environment

The nuclear ban treaty needs work if it’s to deliver on the environment

The current diplomatic process towards a convention banning nuclear weapons is a remarkable breakthrough. It’s also an opportunity to reset the difficult historical relationship between nuclear weapons, and the international law intended to protect the environment in relation to armed conflicts. This blog analyses the environmental elements of the newly published draft ban treaty but in doing so it finds that there is room for improvement, if states and civil society hope to truly deliver on their humanitarian and environmental objectives. In March this year, 132 states began negotiations on […]

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