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Arria-Formula meeting on Protection of the Environment during armed conflict
9 Dec 2019 -  As the world watched more than 600 burning oil wells in Kuwait blackening the horizon during the first Gulf War in 1991, it was a reminder of the obvious impact of military activities on the environment and the people depending on it. That is why November 6 was declared the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict in 2001. Numerous examples from conflicts in the Balkans, the Middle East, Central Asia, South America, and Africa have showed us how ecosystems can be damaged from military toxins, how forests disappear as a result of war-economies, how the targeting of water infrastructure damages agriculture and livelihoods, and how the collapse of environmental governance in conflicts results in large waste management problems and communicable diseases, among other issues.

There have been small steps to make progress to address the responsibilities of warring parties concerning the environment, to improve humanitarian responses and include environmental restoration and protection in post-conflict reconstruction. The International Law Committee published its draft legal principles on protection of the environment in relation to armed conflict (PERAC), the International Committee of the Red Cross is working to update its guidelines for the military on the environment, while also calling for more attention on the links between warfare and the environment.

The meeting will provide a platform for Members of the Security Council to address the interlinkages between the environment and armed conflict, building from the initial discussions on the PERAC agenda and delving more deeply into current needs for language and cooperation in response to previous and ongoing degradation of the environment caused by armed forces in conflicts on the Council’s agenda.

1. Mr. Satya Tripathi - Assistant Secretary-General, Head of New York Office at United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
2. Mr. Willem Zwijnenburg – Humanitarian Disarmament Leader at PAX