Rooting for the atmosphere in instances of battle and struggle


Eighteen years in the past, on 5 November 2001, the United Nations Normal Meeting declared 6 November the Worldwide Day for Stopping the Exploitation of the Atmosphere in Conflict and Armed Battle.

Regardless of the safety afforded by a number of authorized devices, the atmosphere continues to be the silent sufferer of armed conflicts worldwide.

Public concern relating to the concentrating on and use of the atmosphere throughout wartime first peaked through the Viet Nam Conflict. Using the poisonous herbicide Agent Orange, and the ensuing huge deforestation and chemical contamination it brought about, sparked a world outcry resulting in the creation of two new worldwide authorized devices.

The Environmental Modification Conference was adopted in 1976 to ban the usage of environmental modification strategies as a method of warfare. Protocol I, an modification to the Geneva Conventions adopted within the following yr, included two articles (35 and 55) prohibiting warfare that will trigger “widespread, long-term and extreme harm to the pure atmosphere”.

The adequacy of those two devices, nevertheless, was referred to as into query through the 1990–1991 Gulf Conflict. The intensive air pollution brought on by the intentional destruction of over 600 oil wells in Kuwait by the retreating Iraqi military and the following claims for US$85 billion in environmental damages led to additional calls to strengthen authorized safety of the atmosphere throughout armed battle.

And there have been different cases through which armed conflicts have continued to trigger important harm to the atmosphere—immediately, not directly and on account of a scarcity of governance and institutional collapse. For example, dozens of commercial websites had been bombed through the Kosovo battle in 1999, resulting in poisonous chemical contamination at a number of hotspots, specifically in Pančevo, Kragujevac, Novi Unhappy and Bor and raised alarm over potential air pollution of the Danube River. In one other instance, an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 tonnes of gas oil had been launched into the Mediterranean Sea following the bombing of the Jiyeh energy station through the battle between Israel and Lebanon in 2006.

Extra just lately, armed battle in Iraq which started in June 2014, and ended with the seize of the final ISIL-held areas and retreat of ISIS militants in 2017, left a deep environmental footprint in its wake. Because the militants retreated, they set hearth to grease wells triggering the discharge into the air of poisonous mixture of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, polycyclic fragrant hydrocarbons, particulate matter and metals comparable to nickel, vanadium and lead.

Nevertheless, regardless of these challenges, the UN Atmosphere Programme (UNEP) has been working with varied Member States and different companions to strengthen the safety of the atmosphere earlier than, throughout and after armed battle.

“From early 2018, the Iraqi authorities and UNEP partnered to construct a cross-ministry staff able to tackling air pollution from the battle. The initiative can also be meant to strengthen the federal government’s capability in responding to future environmental emergencies that will consequence from assaults towards crucial installations, notably Iraq’s booming oil sector,” says Hassan Partow, UNEP’s Iraq Nation Programme Supervisor.

In September 2019, UNEP in collaboration with the United Nations Help Mission in Iraq organized a workshop on remediation of oil spills, and is aiding the Ministries of Oil and Atmosphere trial cost-effective organic clean-up strategies.

Iraq can also be amongst seven international locations chosen to take part in UNEP’s Particular Programme, an initiative designed to assist states meet their chemical substances and waste administration obligations below the Basel, Rotterdam, Minamata and Stockholm conventions and the Strategic Strategy to Worldwide Chemical substances Administration. These international locations will obtain technical know-how and help with drafting hazardous waste administration laws. 

Just lately, on eight July 2019 the Worldwide Legislation Fee adopted 28 draft authorized rules on first studying to reinforce safety of the atmosphere in battle and struggle conditions. The Worldwide Committee of the Crimson Cross can also be set to launch a revised model of the Pointers for Navy Manuals and Directions on the Safety of the Atmosphere in Occasions of Armed Battle.

“Defending the atmosphere earlier than, throughout and after armed battle should rise to the identical degree of political significance as defending human rights. A wholesome atmosphere is the inspiration upon which ​peace and lots of human rights are realized,” says David Jensen, UNEP’s Head of Environmental Peacebuilding.

Since 1999, UNEP has carried out over twenty-five post-conflict assessments utilizing state-of-the-art science to find out the environmental impacts of struggle. From Kosovo to Afghanistan, Sudan and the Gaza Strip, the group has established that armed battle causes important hurt to the atmosphere and the communities that rely upon pure sources. More and more, UNEP hopes to leverage large knowledge, frontier know-how and citizen science to enhance the systematic monitoring and detection of environmental harm and dangers brought on by armed conflicts with the intention to enhance the safety of human well being, livelihoods and safety. Constructing a digital ecosystem for the planet to map, monitor and mitigate atmosphere, peace and safety dangers is without doubt one of the subsequent precedence investments.

Be taught extra about UNEP’s work on the environmental causes and penalties of disasters and conflicts.

For extra info, please contact:

Stefan Smith, Resilience to Disasters and Conflicts Coordinator  

David Jensen, Head of Environmental Peacebuilding

Hassan Partow, Iraq Nation Programme Supervisor





Supply hyperlink