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Background of Issue

Discuss about the War and Environment for Hohenheim Discussion Papers.

War not only harms the lives of the human beings but also cause the damage of their homes as well as the atmosphere they live. These conflicts among the nations leads to extensive destruction as well as degradation of the environment and persists even after the conflicts end. Despite the fact that the idea of prevention of the environment from the ill effect of the wars or any internal conflicts was not a new one rather it has been taking place from the ancient times. These unitive included the maintenance of fresh water for human survival and land for agriculture[1]. Unfortunately, this idea of protecting the environment has been revitalised again as the technological developments in the weapons after 1900s have resulted in the unprecedented effects and threats to the environment. In addition to this conventional methods of warfare, the environmental damage has been resulted by several tests as well as the increasing usage of nuclear weapons. The effects of these war remains visible in the human body as well as the nature near the war fields.

More than 30% international conflicts are linked with the exploitation of the natural resources like oil, timber, diamonds, fertile land and most recently water. These conflicts involving natural resources have also been affecting the environment in return which has led to origin of 65 million refugees in this world, many will have a story that includes ecocide. This s the reason why the United Nations have realised the importance of environmental protection that has been taking a more protruding role in the initiative to response to the conflicts. Therefore, The International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict has aimed to highpoint the continuing military operation focussing them in the urgent need of the humanitarian aid as well as protection[2]. Thus, the awareness about the war and its effect has been growing from various point of views such as environmental, legal, military and most importantly humanitarian. 

The environmental issues emerging from the warfare has imposed a responsibility on the United Nations and its different wings. The UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator has added the initiative for protecting the environment at the time of conflicts as well as its aftermath is quite critical for protecting the human health. This needs the proper collaboration of the communities with all their abilities and the nations to convalesce after these crises. The international communities are working for producing some stronger yet legal frameworks for protecting this planet.  This is the reason why all the 193 member countries of the United Nations Environment Assembly had adopted a resolution for protecting the environment especially in the areas which were affected by the armed clashes[3]. In addition to this, International Law Commission, wing of the United Nations, the experts of the UN General Assembly and leaders in the international law have initiated to develop the guidance on the processes through international and national laws, the community can guard the environment not only during the conflict but before as well as after these armed conflicts.

Current Situation

According to the recent reports and news, the first part of this initiative to protect the environment from war, the vital activity of the UN was, contacting and collaboration with International Law Commission (ILC) which was dealing with this topic. This very preparation of this subject selected by ILC indicated a wide-ranging approach to this particular subject. This not only covers the rule of behaviour that is appropriate as well as applicable during the armed conflicts, but also those rules which were applicable before as well as after various armed conflicts. With the change of the approaches, the environmental specified grownup or SG also changed its work patterns[4]. This had led to the definite overlaps with the works of the sub-groups with the SG, which led to the fruitful cross-fertilization. The SG considered itself as the friendly yet critical companion to the works of the International Law Commission. As mentioned before, during 2014, 2015 and 2016, the Special Rapporteur of this topic had submitted three consecutive reports. This ultimately led, in the year 2016, to provisional adoption of the set of the Draft Principles of the Commission[5]. In the World Environmental Law Congress in Rio de Janeiro both Michael Bothe as well as Carl Bruch, the co-chairmen addressed the specific issues associated with this subject mainly its association with the Sustainable Development Goals ascribed by Michael Bothe and the issues of Water Security by Carl Bruch. 

This topic of security of the environment during the time of armed conflict has govern a chance to the government of various states to showcase and promote their views in this particular topic. This debate has identified various issues at different point of time especially after the International Law Commission had passed the legal initiatives to protect the environment from war effects. There was an unscientific cross section of the opinions of the member countries in the UN[6]. In 2011, ILC had launched a five years’ study on this topic appointing special rapporteur which served as the guiding of working of the UN but this report following ILC’s process was not being commenced with new conventions or treaties but focussed on the delicate proposal of the new guidelines. This was also avoided conflict regarding these weapons and their impacts on the environment. Therefore, the members had not felt happy regarding the historical as well as political connection between the nuclear weapons and the protection of the environment of the earth. Based on this views, the members had shown different perspectives. Some took the side of progressives and some became conservatives. These conservatives especially UK and us rejected any changes in the Laws of Armed Conflicts[7]. These members had doubted the feasibility and utility of the procedure itself and rejected all-inclusive legal approaches which would manage the environmental laws. Human rights more precisely the refugee and indigenous rights to form a new standard. They have opposed the amalgamation of the legal regimes and question whether the key principles as well as norms from the Environmental Law for example the Precautionary align with Polluter Pays doctrines have become routine[8]. They also questioned whether all these are at all relevant to this topic of protecting the environment from the effects of war.

Areas of Debate

The progressives have welcomes the process as an urgent and call for the consideration of applicability as well as relevance of the parallel legal commands have govern both the environmental protection and the human rights. They argue that the armed conflict need to be largely defined and concept of sustainable development is greatly relevant to this project[9]. They advocated to consider the non-international armed conflicts long with non-state performers in this scope. They observed that the environmental provisions if the IHL were regularly violated and suggested an argument on the post-conflict environmental assistance thus reparations. 

From 1970’s Vietnam War to 1990’s the Iraq-Kuwait war, the awareness of environmental risk as well as damage had grown slowly but surely[10]. With the advancements of the warfare technology, modern international environmental law has been passed, particularly through the Stockholm Declaration which focused on the Protection of the Environment. It also included the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in the year 1972[11]. These conference led to the formation of the United Nations Environment Programme. The environmental concern was also raised after the 1972’s Stockholm Declaration. These were reflected in the two significant legal documents. These two were the Convention on Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques (ENMOD, 1976) another was the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions (1977)[12]. The attempts to further initiatives to codify as well as strengthen the shielding the environment during various armed conflict were again made in the result of more dangerous Iraq-Kuwait war that took place in the 1990s. The United Nations General Assembly had discussed this particular matter and required resolutions were adopted but these attempts failed to reach new legally binding protection measure.

In the year 2009, the UN Environment, ICRC and Environmental Law Institute had made the first wide-ranging analyses of the methods and many different parts that ILC could guard the environment during the armed conflict. Their analysis not only examined the international humanitarian law, but also the human rights law, the environmental law and the international criminal law. Among the commendations in 2009’s UN Environment reports, the UN International Law Commission was suggested to scrutinize the current international laws for the protection of the environment during as well as after the armed conflicts then suggest how the steps can be elucidated, codified as well as expanded[13]. Due to the facts that the recommendations came from the other UN entity, ILC examined them carefully and consequently considered them appropriate to be placed on the long-term program of the works in 2011. In 2013, the topic “Protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts” was again placed on current program of work of the UN. This time the situation had become more critical as the nuclear threats were also included. The first challenge at that time was to deal with such complex topic. Therefore, the Commission had decided to structure three temporal phases to examine the legal rules was applied before as well as after the armed conflict.

Past Actions

The principles included the needs for the post-conflict environmental evaluations along with some remedial measures, proper sharing as well as granting of the needed access to the information[14]. These commission also addressed the environmental influence of the numerous peace operations and also the vitality to address the matters connecting to restoration as well as the protection of the environment damages by the harmful armed conflict in the peace processes. The needs for removing or rendering the harmless toxics as well as hazardous remnants of the wars on land and seas are recognized[15]. This is because the important roles of relevant international organizations in protecting the nature from the harmful chemicals and nuclear radiation. 

The environment is an important tool for the building of sustainable peace as well as respect for the human rights. The fore it is needed that the initiatives to protect the environment in the context of the armed conflict become more urgent. The probable solutions of this issue can only be focussed on the incised campaigns for the peaceful reconciliation among the super powers of the world. The problems harming the interest of the countries and resulting in war must be stopped. The UN needs to incurs proteas to make the members understand the importance of environmental issues which affect the land, air and water of the earth. The initiatives must be taken to save issues rear doing nuclear war. More laws need to be passed to prevent the toasting of nuclear power in the natural habitats. The pollution of land, water and air due to constant military practices to marinating status among the nations should be limited. Finally, the restoration programs to save the environment of the places already affected war zones must be increased.

In order to protect the environment from the harmful impact of the war the UN has initiated various resolutions so that this can be prevented and the earth can be built as a sustainable place for living. The questions that the resolution must cover are-

  • What is actually meant by the protection of environment?
  • What are the most affected areas that the wars affect the environment?
  • Does the resolution have identified any dimension for the protection?
  • What are the dimensions that the resolution wants to cover?
  • Does the protecting initiative have any cultural influence?
  • Does the resolution only cover the traditional war aspects or t also include the chemical, biological and nuclear war?
  • How does the resolution focus on the war refugees living on the natural habitations? 

Bajad, Ganesh, Rajat Jain, Warun Harhare, and Suryasarathi Bose. "Synthesis of fuel oil and carbon nanotubes in an autoclave using plastic waste as precursor." Materials and Manufacturing Processes 32, no. 5 (2017): 495-500.

Braun, Sebastian, and Nadja Dwenger. The local environment shapes refugee integration: Evidence from post-war Germany. No. 10-2017. Hohenheim Discussion Papers in Business, Economics and Social Sciences, 2017.

Hynes, H. Patricia. "The invisible tragedy of war: Women and the environment." In Global Health and Security, pp. 13-27. Routledge, 2018.

Icrc.org. 2018. "International Law Protecting The Environment During Armed Conflict: Gaps And Opportunities". International Committee Of The Red Cross. https://www.icrc.org/en/international-review/article/international-law-protecting-environment-during-armed-conflict-gaps-and

Informea.org. 2018. "Protection Of The Environment In Areas Affected By Armed Conflict | Informea". Informea.Org. https://www.informea.org/en/decision/protection-environment-areas-affected-armed-conflict

Iucn.org. 2018. "Armed Conflict And The Environment". IUCN. https://www.iucn.org/commissions/world-commission-environmental-law/our-work/specialist-groups/armed-conflict-and-environment

Johnson, Ralph Jay. "A literature review of medical aspects of post-cold war UN peacekeeping operations: trends, lessons learnt, courses of action and recommendations." Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps 162, no. 4 (2016): 250-255.

Karlsrud, John. "The UN at war: examining the consequences of peace-enforcement mandates for the UN peacekeeping operations in the CAR, the DRC and Mali." Third World Quarterly 36, no. 1 (2015): 40-54.

Lawrence, Michael J., Holly LJ Stemberger, Aaron J. Zolderdo, Daniel P. Struthers, and Steven J. Cooke. "The effects of modern war and military activities on biodiversity and the environment." Environmental Reviews 23, no. 4 (2015): 443-460.

Managhan, Tina. "We all dreamed it: the politics of knowing and un-knowing the “war on terror”." Critical Studies on Terrorism 10, no. 1 (2017): 22-43.

Michael, J., L. J. Holly, J. Aaron, P. Daniel, and J. Steven. "effects of modern war and military activities on biodiversity and the environment." Environmental reviews (2015).

Soltani, Rasool, and Maryam Moradi. "The Evolution of the Concept of International Peace and Security in light of UN Security Council Practice (End of the Cold War-Until Now)." Open Journal of Political Science 7, no. 01 (2016): 133.

Weber, Fieke. "Sanction busters in the post-Cold War environment: Did the the post-Cold War environment change the incentives for sanctions busters, and does a change in incentives affect the chances of success or failure of economic sanctions?." Bachelor's thesis, 2016.

Worldlii.org. 2018. "Protection Of The Environment During Armed Conflicts : A Case Study Of Kosovo - [2001] ISILYBIHRL 13". Worldlii.Org. https://www.worldlii.org/int/journals/ISILYBIHRL/2001/13.html.

Worldwatch.org. 2018. "War And The Environment | Worldwatch Institute". Worldwatch.Org. https://www.worldwatch.org/node/5520

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