Protecting the environment in times of war – Green Earth Family
War is a miserable thing. It kills and maims soldiers and civilians. It destroys infrastructure, cultures, and communities. It worsens poverty and development challenges. And it damages and cripples vital ecological and environmental resources.
Over the past 150 years, international law and principles related to war and armed conflict have evolved to try to limit some of the worst evils of violence by protecting civilians, medical and community infrastructure, and to some degree, the environment. But these protections are inadequate: Current international constraints are too weak, inadequately enforced, or both.
Fresh water and water systems are a disturbing example. The data shows an increasing trend of water-related conflicts and violence against natural or built water systems, where water is a trigger, weapon, or casualty of conflict. But we must also confront a world where worsening environmental conditions, including human-caused climate change, also contribute to the risk of population displacements, tensions, armed conflict, and war.
It is time for renegotiating and strengthening the international law protecting resources and the environment — a green Geneva Convention to protect resources, ecosystems (including the climate), and critical civilian water and energy infrastructure. We can start by building on the International Law Commission’s new draft environmental principles that were recently provisionally adopted at the United Nations, and adding a set of principles like those proposed for the…