Do the ILC’s draft principles on remnants and data sharing reflect state practice?

Do the ILC’s draft principles on remnants and data sharing reflect state practice?

A new report from PAX and ICBUW on the legacy of depleted uranium use in the 2003 Iraq War could help inform the debate initiated by the International Law Commission this summer on the emerging legal principles for the post-conflict management of toxic and hazardous remnants of war. The report – Targets of Opportunity – makes use of recently released targeting data from US A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft to map and analyse the use of 30mm depleted uranium (DU) ammunition in the first month of the 2003 conflict. In doing […]

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Five years on: lessons learned from the environmental legacy of Syria’s war

Five years on: lessons learned from the environmental legacy of Syria’s war

This week the Toxic Remnants of War Network commemorates the beginning of the conflict in Syria. The devastation wrought upon the country has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians, wounding many more and displacing millions across the region and beyond. They have left behind cities turned to rubble, ravaged towns and barren lands scarred by fighting. A recent study on Syria undertaken by the World Bank noted the enormous damage to health facilities, critical infrastructure, education and the economy. The conflict has not just been a humanitarian tragedy; […]

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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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Online identification of conflict related environmental damage

Online identification of conflict related environmental damage

In this blog, Wim Zwinenburg (PAX) and Eliot Higgins (Bellingcat) discuss the open source intelligence tools that they used to recover data on environmental damage during the ongoing conflict in Syria for PAX’s recently published report Amidst the Debris. With the conflict in Syria soon to enter its fifth year, large parts of the country have been laid to waste by intense fighting, bombardment and shelling. Understandably, most of the focus has been on the fighting and the direct victims of armed violence, with rather less on other impacts and […]

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New desk study on Syria identifies pollution risks to civilians

New desk study on Syria identifies pollution risks to civilians

The ongoing conflict in Syria is likely to have a disastrous impact on the environment and public health, according to a new study published by PAX. Four years of fighting has left cities in rubble and caused widespread damage to industrial sites, critical infrastructure and the oil industry. Pollution from these forms of damage is likely to result in acute and chronic risks to civilians and will have a long-term impact on the environment that they depend on. “With the additional attacks by Russia in or near Aleppo, which has […]

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Conflict in Yemen: lessons for citizen environmental monitoring

Conflict in Yemen: lessons for citizen environmental monitoring

The conflict in Yemen is likely to have produced a range of TRW threats for the civilian population but in common with other conflicts, data on environmental risks has been largely absent from the discourse or has been subject to media distortion. Andy Garrity considers whether the approaches used to document the use of cluster munitions during the fighting could help inform citizen and activist data collection on conflict pollution. The Houthi militia uprising in Yemen in 2014 saw the internationally recognised President Abd Rabbuh Mansu Hadi flee to neighbouring […]

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The civilian health risks from TNT in Syria’s barrel bombs

The civilian health risks from TNT in Syria’s barrel bombs

The TRWP was recently asked to help identify a substance associated with partially detonated barrel bombs in Syria. Syria’s White Helmets, the volunteers who daily risk their lives in the aftermath of attacks, were understandably worried about the potential use of chemical agents by the Assad regime. While the irritant fumes and pink powdery residue appeared to be from TNT and not a chemical weapon, the health risks from exposure to this common explosive are increasingly well understood and should be taken into account when examining the civilian impact of the use […]

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The toxic footprint of Syria’s War

The toxic footprint of Syria’s War

Pieter Both and Wim Zwijnenburg, from PAX, discuss the long term health and environmental impacts of Syria’s civil war. Syria’s ongoing civil war has already resulted in over hundred-and-fifty thousand casualties and has brought enormous destruction in cities and towns all over the country. Apart from the direct impact of the armed conflict on the lives and livelihoods of Syrian citizens, health and environmental impacts are emerging as problems that deserve immediate as well as long term attention. This war leaves behind a toxic footprint resulting both directly and indirectly […]

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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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Iraq, DU and the applicability of peacetime norms during and after conflict

Iraq, DU and the applicability of peacetime norms during and after conflict

A new report from PAX received widespread media coverage last week when it revealed, for the first time, a set of US target coordinates and information for some locations of depleted uranium (DU) strikes from the 2003 Iraq War. The report also sought to assess what the post-conflict response to widespread DU contamination and tonnes of military scrap would have looked like if civil radiation protection guidelines had been properly applied. As one of the TRWP’s principles is that conflict does not immediately remove the requirement to protect public and […]

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