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PIA Press Release
2008/11/04

UN calls for renewal of commitment to prevent exploitation of environment in times of conflict

Tacloban City (November 4) -- As the whole world commemorates the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict on November 6, 2008, the United Nations called for the renewal of commitment towards preventing the exploitation of the environment in times of conflict, and to protecting the environment as a pillar of the work for peace.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said that the United Nations attaches great importance to "ensuring that action on the environment is part of our approach to peace. Protecting the environment can help countries create employment opportunities, promote development and avoid a relapse into armed conflict.

In his message to mark this International Day, the UN Secretary General reminded one and all that the natural environment enjoys protection under Protocol 1 of the Geneva Conventions.

This protection, however, is often violated during war and armed conflict, Secretary Ban Ki-Moon said. Water wells are polluted, crops torched, forests cut down, soils poisoned, and animals killed, all in order to gain military advantage. As an example, Secretary Ban Ki-Moon cited the draining of the marshlands of the Euphrates-Tigris Delta during the 1990s deliberately targeted the ecosystem for political and military goals.

Secretary Ban Ki-Moon said that the United Nations is now studying the environmental impacts of conflict across the world, from the Balkans to Afghanistan, from Lebanon to Sudan.

One can see how environmental damage and the collapse of institutions are threatening human health, livelihoods and security. These risks can also jeopardize fragile peace and development in post-conflict societies.

"In Afghanistan, warfare and institutional disintegration have combined to take a major toll," the UN Secretary General said. In a clear case of environmentally induced displacement, tens of thousands of people have been forced from rural to urban areas in search of food and employment.

Secretary Ban K-Moon said that the environment and natural resources are crucial in consolidating peace within and between war-torn societies.

He said that several countries in the Great Lakes Region of Africa established trans-boundary cooperation to manage their shared natural resources. Lasting peace in Darfur will depend in part on resolving the underlying competition for water and fertile land. There can be no durable peace in Afghanistan if the natural resources that sustain livelihoods and ecosystems are destroyed, the UN Secretary General said. (PIA 8) [top]

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