International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict

6 November 2020


 
In 2001, during the time in office of Kofi Annan as Secretary-General, the United Nations General Assembly (UN General Assembly) declared every 6 of November to be the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.
 
War and armed conflicts have many casualties, the most commented consequences of their devastation include the dead and the wounded, destroyed cities and property. Meanwhile, the environment and animals are seldom thought of in such cases. However, it often happens that, either as a direct means to gain military advantage or as unplanned side-effects, water wells get polluted, food crops get incinerated or forests get cut down, among other things.
 
Decades-long armed conflicts (such as in Afghanistan or Iraq) have been the source of significant deforestation. Moreover, countries that are home to places of significantly important biodiversity (such as Colombia or South Sudan), have been offering shelter to armed forces in those very places since they are often difficult to reach and govern by the State. This has opened the doors to illegal and harmful activities such as unregulated mining and logging and massive poaching, all detrimental to biodiversity and conservation.
 
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), over the last 60 years, about 40% of all internal armed conflicts have been connected to the abuse of natural resources, from oil and diamonds to water and land. Through resolutions passed at the Second and Third UN Environment Assemblies in 2016 and 2017, the UN and the international community have also recognised the need to improve the defence of the environment during armed conflicts.
 
6 November is a day on which to reflect about the consequences of war and armed conflicts on the environment, and an invitation to speak up and think of ways to limit such disasters. No Peace Without Justice joins this call and urges States to provide proper protection and aid during conflicts not only to people and their property, but also to the environment and the wildlife. This is especially crucial at a time when our planet is already facing the severe consequences of climate change. 
 
For further information, contact Nicola Giovannini, Press & Public Affairs Coordinator, on ngiovannini@npwj.org org.