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| Last Updated:: 21/01/2020

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

 

On 5 November 2001, the General Assembly declared 6 November of each year as the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. In taking this action, it considered that damage to the environment in times of armed conflict impairs ecosystems and natural resources long after the period of conflict, often extending beyond the limits of national territories and the present generation. The Assembly also recalled the United Nations Millennium Declaration, which emphasized the necessity of working to protect our common environment.

 

The International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict was established by the General Assembly to highlight the environmental consequences of war, and the importance of neither exploiting nor heedlessly damaging ecosystems in the pursuit of military objectives. Sometimes such damage is unavoidable. But often, with a little care or forethought, such damage can be averted.

 

Parties engaged in hostilities have a responsibility to observe international rules and agreements, such as the Geneva Conventions, that govern the conduct of war. Some of these rules, such as a prohibition on the deliberate destruction of agricultural land, have an environmental emphasis. But by and large the environmental consequences of war are overlooked by contemporary laws. It is high time that we review international agreements related to war and armed conflict to ensure that they also cover deliberate and unintentional damage to the environment.

 

On this International Day, let us recognize the threat that war poses to the foundation of all our sustainable development objectives – and let us pledge to do more about it.