What's In Blue

Posted Sun 8 Dec 2019

Arria-formula Meeting on the “Protection of the Environment during Armed Conflict”

On Monday (9 December), there will be an open Arria-formula meeting on the “Protection of the Environment during Armed Conflict” from 3-6 pm in the Trusteeship Council Chamber at UN headquarters, hosted by Estonia, Germany, Kuwait and Peru. Panelists are expected to include Assistant Secretary-General and head of the New York Office of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Satya Tripathi and Willem Zwijnenburg, the Humanitarian Disarmament Leader at PAX. Following brief statements by the panelists, current and incoming Council members will make interventions. Other UN member states, accredited non-governmental organisations, and media will be permitted to attend without making statements.

In a concept note prepared for the meeting, the co-hosts emphasise that the meeting intends to provide an opportunity “to address the interlinkages between the environment and armed conflict…delving into current needs for language and cooperation in response to previous and ongoing degradation of the environment caused by armed force in conflicts on the Council’s agenda”. The note, which refers to the environmental impact of the destruction of Kuwaiti oil fields during the 1991 Gulf War, poses a series of questions to help guide the discussion, including:

  • What measures can member states, the UN, and the Security Council in particular, take to enhance or implement international environmental agreements and response mechanisms to prevent and address damage to natural resources and the environment more broadly?
  • How can data-sharing on the environmental impacts of crises be improved to support more rapid and efficient responses?
  • How can the UN, and the Security Council in particular, more effectively protect people and communities impacted by environmental degradation as a result of armed conflict?
  • What are recent patterns and trends in conflict areas that increase the risks of ecological disasters?

Monday’s discussion builds on an Arria-formula meeting that Germany and Kuwait co-hosted on this topic on 7 November 2018. Assistant Secretary-General Tripathi and Carl Bruch, the Director of International Programs at the Environmental Law Institute and co-founder of the Environmental Peacebuilding Association, briefed at that meeting. During the meeting, Tripathi maintained that the protection of the environment in armed conflict could be strengthened through monitoring and reviewing environmental damage of armed conflicts. Bruch said that the Security Council could respond more effectively to the environmental impact of armed conflict, including by improving the UN’s ability to evaluate and monitor the environmental risks of armed conflict and by prioritising the management of natural resources in post-conflict peacebuilding.

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