Amidst growing awareness of the linkages between environment, peace and security, PAX and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) were invited by the governments of Estonia, Germany, Kuwait, and Peru to brief UN Security Council members at an Arria-formula meeting on protection of the environment in armed conflict (PERAC) on December 9, 2019.
In the course of the last decade, PAX has increasingly witnessed how environmental damage and the destruction of natural resources is directly impacting capacities for the protection of civilians, undermining peacebuilding efforts and continuously failing to be incorporated in reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts. During the briefing, PAX cited examples of our work in Syria, Iraq and the Ukraine, highlighting the importance of tackling these issues in a timely and effective manner. Therefore, we called for improved data collection and information sharing to improve humanitarian responses and we further called upon Member States and UN stakeholders to develop an overarching mechanism to address the full spectrum of environmental dimensions of armed conflicts.
The UN Environment Programme followed with their briefing, underscoring how various UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions have addressed the topic and outlining how UNEP is working in post-conflict assessment. In their statement, they further stressed the connection between environmental degradation and insecurity, but also how the environment can be a tool for peacebuilding.
These briefings were followed by statements delivered by 14 of the 15 current Security Council members, with an additional statement provided by incoming member and co-host, Estonia. During State interventions, various important elements of the debate were put forward. Many States underscored the importance of the use of frontier technologies to monitor environmental damage, while others stressed the need to improve the legal protection of the environment in armed conflicts, as is currently being undertaken by the International Law Commission. There were also calls by States for increased awareness and inclusion of this theme across the UN system, including in discussions at the Security Council around peacekeeping and protection of civilians.
This year’s meeting built on discussions during the 2018 UNSC Arria-formula meeting on the same topic, demonstrating increased interest to position the conflict-environment nexus on the Council’s agenda.
Previously, PAX joined 103 civil society organisations and experts with a statement on November 6 this year, the UN International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, jointly calling for action on the environment.
The full briefing can be seen on UN Web TV, or download the statement here
More information on PAX’s work on conflict and environment