New data on Ukraine conflict’s environmental risks supports calls for comprehensive assessment

New data on Ukraine conflict’s environmental risks supports calls for comprehensive assessment

With the threats that the Ukraine conflict poses to the environment once again in the news, Zoï Environment Network has released new maps on the environmental consequences of the conflict. With both sides increasingly conscious of the humanitarian and ecological impact of the war, plans to minimise risks and encourage sustainable reconstruction are being promoted. However, without a comprehensive assessment of the damage, such proposals are of limited value. This blog reviews Zoï’s latest research and argues that absent a UN-led assessment, civil society should be encouraged to plug the […]

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Mainstreaming the environment in peace and security

Mainstreaming the environment in peace and security

Everyone recognises the importance of environmental mainstreaming. It’s a problem that is particularly acute for conflict and the environment, where the environment is rarely prioritised before, during or after conflicts. In turn this influences how we frame the issues we work on, and it also influences how we work, often content with modest progress from one project to the next. The barriers we face are systemic, which begs the question – do we need to change the system? One of the more curious aspects of current debates on conflict and […]

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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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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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Ukraine conflict – 24 months of urgent environmental recovery will cost $30m

Ukraine conflict – 24 months of urgent environmental recovery will cost $30m

The environmental costs of the ongoing Ukraine conflict are still to be fully quantified but an EU-UN-World Bank needs assessment has called for US$30m to fund urgent environmental recovery over the next two years. With UNEP still unable to assess or begin restoring the damage on the ground due to insecurity, this sum, which already far exceeds that for UXO management is only likely to grow. Shortly after Zoi Environment Network and the TRWP published a first look at the environmental damage from the Ukraine conflict, the EU, UN and […]

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Event report: Mine action, the environment and toxic remnants of war, Geneva Feb 18th

Event report: Mine action, the environment and toxic remnants of war, Geneva Feb 18th

Between February 16th and 19th, the international mine action community gathered in Geneva for the 18th International Meeting of Mine Action National Program Directors and UN Advisors. This year’s theme was “Beyond Mine Action”. The TRWP and the GICHD hosted a side event on ‘Mine action, the environment and toxic remnants of war’. Its aim was to explore whether it is both feasible and desirable for the mine action community to go further in integrating environmental assessment for TRW in its activities. The TRWP’s Doug Weir began the event with […]

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Towards an integrated approach to the material legacies of war: landmines, explosive remnants of war and environmental contamination.

Towards an integrated approach to the material legacies of war: landmines, explosive remnants of war and environmental contamination.

In this collaboration, Dr Matthew Bolton (Pace University, NY) and Doug Weir examine how the politics of war, the environment and humanitarianism since the 1970s have influenced state and civil society responses to the remnants of war. In doing so it considers how mines and ERW became decoupled from the environment and whether new opportunities are now emerging for a more integrated approach to reducing the risks the legacies of war pose to civilians and environment alike. Introduction The world is infused with all kinds of risks – to our security, to our livelihoods, to our […]

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Breaking the silence: Protecting civilians from toxic remnants of war

Breaking the silence: Protecting civilians from toxic remnants of war

Toxic remnants of war and their legacy of civilian harm is seriously under-explored as an area of conflict. There is a growing consensus that the current legal framework governing conflict and the environment is not fit for purpose – so how could new international norms that merge environmental protection with civilian protection come into effect? In his message on the occasion of the United Nations day on conflict and the environment last month, Ban Ki-moon repeated the disappointingly persistent observation that “the environment has long been a silent casualty of war […]

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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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