Blog: Conflicting views surface on UNEP’s work on armed conflicts ahead of UNEA-2

Blog: Conflicting views surface on UNEP’s work on armed conflicts ahead of UNEA-2

Last week in Nairobi, States were negotiating the resolutions that will be tabled at this year’s United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2), the second meeting of the now universal membership governing body of the UN Environment Programme. UNEA is intended to develop into the leading global authority on environmental matters, and conflict and the environment featured prominently on the agenda. Three draft resolutions were submitted for negotiation to the Open Ended Committee of Permanent Representatives (OECPR) in Nairobi – essentially a prepcom for UNEA-2 – reflecting the growing international interest among […]

Read More

Armed conflict, environmental protection and the Sustainable Development Goals

Armed conflict, environmental protection and the Sustainable Development Goals

Unless the international community does more to protect and restore the environment from the impact of armed conflict, many countries will fail to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, writes Doug Weir. This year will see the second biennial meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), the new, and it is hoped more politically influential incarnation of the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Governing Council. One of UNEA-2’s joint themes this year is “delivering the environmental dimension of the Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs). The SDGs, which replaced the Millennium Development […]

Read More

Using citizen science to assess environmental damage in the Syrian conflict

Using citizen science to assess environmental damage in the Syrian conflict

For new and ongoing conflicts across the world, the need to document their impact on civilians and the environment upon which they depend is encouraging the development of new research tools and methodologies. Traditional approaches for monitoring environmental risks are notoriously reliant on field access for experts. But with civilians increasingly able to access the Internet and mobile networks, and with their growing use by warring parties, new opportunities are being created for the collection of environmental data, by experts and civilians alike.   Following on from the blog Online […]

Read More

Fire and oil: The collateral environmental damage from airstrikes on ISIS oil facilities

Fire and oil: The collateral environmental damage from airstrikes on ISIS oil facilities

As the United States, Russia, and others step up attacks on the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), there is concern over their direct and long-term environmental and public health impacts. Many air strikes have targeted lucrative oil installations under the control of ISIS, and these could have severe detrimental effects for Syria’s future, both environmentally and socio-economically. Questions around the effectiveness of these strikes, both from a military and political perspective, seem to be missing in the wider debate. Although essentially forbidden by the Geneva Conventions, attacks on […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

What states said on conflict and the environment at the UN last week and why it matters

What states said on conflict and the environment at the UN last week and why it matters

Last week, quite a lot of governments said quite a lot of things about 2015’s report from the International Law Commission on legal protection for the environment during armed conflicts. This blog takes a look at what was said, who said it, why it matters and what it tells us about the hopes for more effective protection for the environment from the impact of armed conflict. Shortly after the UN’s Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, the UN General Assembly’s Sixth Committee (legal matters) […]

Read More

New report: Environmental Mechanics – Re-imagining Post-conflict Environmental Assistance

New report: Environmental Mechanics – Re-imagining Post-conflict Environmental Assistance

To mark the UN’s environment and conflict day 2015, the Toxic Remnants of War Project has published a major new report that explores how a more formalised system of post-conflict assistance could increase the protection of civilians and their environment, and help to create and strengthen norms against environmentally destructive military behaviours. Why have we written it? For the last forty years, legal scholars have been debating how legal protection for the environment before, during and after armed conflict could be strengthened. Since 2009, the debate has been given added […]

Read More

Introducing the Toxic Remnants of War Network

Introducing the Toxic Remnants of War Network

Damage to the natural environment has long been a hallmark of conflict. But technological developments, both in terms of how hostilities are conducted, and the locations in which wars are fought, are increasing the risk of serious long-term environmental damage, and with it, threats to the civilian population. From Ukraine, to Libya, Iraq, Syria and Gaza, environmental damage is threatening lives and livelihoods and increasing the vulnerability of communities. There is a consensus view among legal scholars and, increasingly, international organisations and some states, that International Humanitarian Law’s current provisions […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More