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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Collateral damage estimates and the acceptability of attacks on industrial sites

Collateral damage estimates and the acceptability of attacks on industrial sites

The deliberate or inadvertent damage or destruction of industrial facilities during conflict has the potential to cause severe environmental damage and create acute and long-term risks to civilians. Can such attacks ever be justified, particularly when the consequences of attacks may be difficult to anticipate with any degree of certainty? Global population growth, and with it increasing levels of industrialisation, is increasing the likelihood that in any given conflict, fighting may occur in areas containing industrial infrastructure. Consequently, the likelihood of damage to such sites is increasing. Industrial sites whose […]

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The Ukraine conflict’s legacy of environmental damage and pollutants

The Ukraine conflict’s legacy of environmental damage and pollutants

One year after violent conflict began, information is now emerging on the specific environmental impact of war in Ukraine’s highly industrialised Donbas region. Although obtaining accurate data is difficult, indications are that the conflict has resulted in a number of civilian health risks, and potentially long-term damage to its environment. In order to mitigate these long-term risks, international and domestic agencies will have to find ways to coordinate their efforts on documenting, assessing and addressing the damage. The environmental legacy of conflict and military activities is rarely prioritised in post-conflict […]

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Iraq’s continuing struggle with conflict pollution

Iraq’s continuing struggle with conflict pollution

While Iraq is still recovering from the environmental impact of both Gulf wars, it now faces new environmental problems caused by the current conflict against the Islamic State. Since the uprising began in June 2014, fierce battles have taken place in and around cities and industrial areas, affecting the already precarious environmental situation. Wim Zwijnenburg considers the risks and response. Heavy fighting in and around the Baiji oil refinery, and attacks on other industrial installation have led to the release of a range of hazardous substances into the environment, affecting soil 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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Rebuilding Gaza and the need to assess TRW risks

Rebuilding Gaza and the need to assess TRW risks

The people of Gaza are facing the colossal task of rebuilding homes, roads and schools following the hostilities between Hamas and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) last summer. Disagreements over border access and the importation of construction equipment and materials have delayed the removal of rubble and rebuilding. As a result, environmental risks to civilian health linger in Gaza despite calls for greater urgency and co-operation between The Palestinian Authority, Israel and the United Nations. The IDF’s Operation Protective Edge resulted in the destruction of 61,800 homes along with the […]

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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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TRW down under: The Australian Defence Force’s approach to contaminated land management

TRW down under: The Australian Defence Force’s approach to contaminated land management

The Australian Defence Force has a comprehensive management plan for TRW sites and practices and the Department of Defence recognises its responsibility to remediate sites contaminated by its military activities. Andy Garrity examines their remediation schemes and considers principles and practices relevant to post-conflict TRW management. The Australian Department of Defence (ADoD) operate a large scale Environmental Remediation Programme (ERP) to tackle the environmental legacy of operations that has been amassed during the last 70 years, both domestically and overseas. The Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) ERP was initiated in 2003, […]

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