Armed conflicts and the environment
- Parliamentary Assembly
- Text adopted by
the Standing Committee, acting on behalf of the Assembly, on 25
November 2011 (see Doc.
12774, report of the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture
and Local and Regional Affairs, rapporteur: Mr R. Huseynov).
1. The Parliamentary Assembly notes
with concern that armed conflicts have disastrous consequences for the
environment: destruction of infrastructure, pollution of water supplies,
poisoning of soil and fields, destruction of crops and forests.
2. Natural resources can in themselves be a source of conflict
when they are a main target of military operations.
3. The Assembly also notes that conflicts lead to the over-exploitation
of natural resources, engendering food shortages, deforestation,
soil erosion and the disappearance of wildlife.
4. Moreover, environmental damage is often more serious at the
end of the conflict, when the population returns and the country
is reconstructed. The return of refugees leads to the over-exploitation
of resources to meet their food and energy needs, but also to high
economic, social and political costs.
5. In this context, the Assembly recalls its Recommendation 1495
(2001) on the environmental impact of the war in Yugoslavia on South-East
Europe, in which it clearly stated: “As was the case for operations
in Bosnia and Chechnya, states involved in these operations disregarded
the international rules set out in Articles 55 and 56 of Protocol
I (1977) to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 intended to limit environmental
damage in armed conflict.”
6. The Assembly regrets that the natural environment is not defined
in Article 52 of Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions.
7. In this connection, the Assembly deplores that despite the
various existing international texts such as the Convention on the
Prohibition of Military or any Other Hostile Use of Environmental
Modification Techniques (the ENMOD Convention), which came into
force in 1978 and is regarded as the leading reference text on environmental
protection during armed conflicts, and the Protocol Additional to
the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 prohibiting the use of
ecological warfare, armed conflicts unquestionably still have adverse
effects on the environment which may persist for years or decades.
8. The Assembly urges the governments of Council of Europe member
and observer states to comply scrupulously with the legal instruments
on the relationship between armed conflicts and the environment
and to organise awareness-raising programmes aimed in particular
at those in charge of military planning.
9. The Assembly is convinced that greater international environmental
accountability, coupled with the enforcement of international legislation
on war crimes and human rights violations, could prevent any future armed
10. The Assembly also considers that the international and humanitarian
organisations which are directly involved in post-conflict management
have an important role to play in environmental assessments. Devising strategies
to deal with population movements, emergency planning and setting
up refugee camps would help them pinpoint rapid solutions acceptable
in both social and environmental terms.
11. The Assembly stresses the important role of the media in drawing
public attention to the environmental impact of armed conflicts.
In the light of these considerations, the Assembly recommends
that member and non-member states of the Council of Europe:
12.1 ensure the training of civilian
and military personnel and general staff in environmental issues
in times of armed conflict;
12.2 implement the 1994 Red Cross Guidelines for Military Manuals
and Instructions on the Protection of the Environment in Times of
Armed Conflict in national military training programmes;
12.3 promote an exchange of information among Council of Europe
member states on environmental management in periods of armed conflict
and the harmonisation of existing legislation on this subject;
12.4 appoint a “sustainable development” correspondent within
the European Defence Agency;
12.5 relaunch the ENMOD Convention in order to restrict military
climate control programmes;
12.6 integrate ecodesign into arms programmes;
12.7 assess the risks to the environment posed by military
exercises, such as noise and threats to wildlife;
12.8 encourage humanitarian organisations to undertake pre-conflict
environmental assessments where possible, in order to improve the
humanitarian planning of conflicts and, in particular, the siting
of refugee camps;
12.9 release funds so that international organisations, such
as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) can carry out
pre-conflict environmental assessments;
12.10 ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions which entered
into force on 1 August 2010 and encourage partner states such as
Israel and Afghanistan to do the same;
12.11 support the drafting of a treaty to ban phosphorous weapons.
13. The Assembly calls on the parliaments of member states to
take the lead and introduce legislative measures on the environment,
particularly during armed conflicts, paying special attention to
the issue of ecological crime.