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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Why toxic remnants of war?

Why toxic remnants of war?

Recent questions from academics about both the origin of our project, and its rationale, have provided an opportunity for us to consider the value of toxic remnants of war as a frame for improving civilian and environmental protection from conflict pollutants. Our approach is simple. Conflict creates pollution and enables polluters. Pollution can have a detrimental effect on human and environmental health. Therefore in order to protect civilians and the environment, we believe that parties to a conflict must seek to minimise the generation of conflict pollutants. They should also […]

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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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Event report: peacebuilding and environmental damage in contemporary jus post bellum

Event report: peacebuilding and environmental damage in contemporary jus post bellum

The TRW Project was delighted to be invited to take part in a recent seminar organised by the University of Leiden’s Jus Post Bellum (JPB)Project. The event took place at the Peace Palace in The Hague and featured a series of panel and roundtable discussions on peacebuilding and environmental damage during and after conflict. The JPB Project, led by Prof. Carsten Stahn, investigates whether and how a contemporary jus post bellum – law after war – may facilitate greater fairness and sustainability in conflict termination and peacemaking. The JPB Project […]

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Event report: Protecting civilians means protecting the environment, 3rd April 2014

Event report: Protecting civilians means protecting the environment, 3rd April 2014

The Toxic Remnants of War Project organised a side event during the CCW Protocol V Group of Governmental Experts meeting in Geneva. The aim was to provide delegations and agencies with an overview of the TRW issue and focus in on two topics that the TRWP has recently worked on: the toxicological screening of munitions constituents and the need for more detailed environmental assessment in conflict and post-conflict settings. TRWP Project Manager Doug Weir provided an overview of the TRW framing, discussing how principles from human rights and environmental law […]

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Thoughts on the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict

Thoughts on the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict

The TRW Project was launched in response to a growing sense that an environmental dimension had been absent from the developing field of humanitarian disarmament. Just as peace and security are key to sustainable development, we believed that environmental concerns should be seen as fundamental considerations for states and civil society working towards improving the protection of civilians during, and after conflict. In much the same way, the UN formally established the need to consider the environmental impact of conflict in 2001, with November 6th chosen to mark the day: […]

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Statements on Toxic Remnants of War at UN First Committee 2013

Statements on Toxic Remnants of War at UN First Committee 2013

Five states (Costa Rica, Norway, South Africa, Austria and Ireland) raised the issues of toxic remnants of war and conflict and the environment earlier this week at the United Nations General Assembly First Committee. The statements were given during the thematic debate on conventional weapons. The Toxic Remnants of War Project (TRWP) warmly welcomes these interventions as a first step towards further debate on the means of reducing civilian harm from environmental pollution associated with conflict. An NGO statement, which the TRWP prepared with the International Network on Explosive Weapons, […]

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Harm prevention lessons from peacetime norms and standards

Harm prevention lessons from peacetime norms and standards

Industry and development are synonymous with potentially harmful chemicals, waste products and processes. Human or mechanical errors, or technical failures, can result in industrial accidents, which can threaten environmental and public health. Many of the substances involved in industrial processes and accidents are common to military activities and are therefore of relevance when assessing post-conflict environmental contamination. The legislation and conventions in place to prevent industrial harm to the environment, alongside the response and procedures in place to treat contamination are, at present, very different to those relevant to military […]

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Civilian protection requires environmental protection

Civilian protection requires environmental protection

How would conflict look if it were treated as a peacetime industrial accident? What forms of assistance would be made available to assist affected communities, and which regulations and obligations would apply for both the polluter and the government? What balance would be struck between safeguarding public and environmental health and the needs of industry? International Humanitarian Law provisions for the protection of the environment during conflict have remained largely static since the late 1970s, even as peacetime regulatory frameworks, such as the EU’s wide-ranging REACH system on chemicals in […]

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