Tomorrow (7 November) at 3pm in the ECOSOC chamber, current Council member Kuwait will convene an Arria-formula meeting, co-sponsored with incoming member Germany, on the “Protection of the Environment during Armed Conflict.” Panelists are expected to include Satya Tripathi, head of the New York Office of the UN Environment Program, and Carl Bruch, Director of International Programs at the Environmental Law Institute and co-founder of the Environmental Peacebuilding Association.
Following brief statements by the panelists, current and incoming Council members will be invited to make interventions. The meeting will also be open to UN member states, accredited non-governmental organisations and the media—although they are not invited to speak.
The timing of the meeting is designed to coincide closely with the “International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict” (6 November), which was declared by the General Assembly in a resolution put forward by Kuwait and adopted in November 2001 (A/RES/56/4).
A concept note circulated in preparation for the meeting states that environmental damage during conflict can impede sustainable development and can potentially lead to a relapse of conflict. It raises questions that members may want to consider in their interventions. These include:
• Can international law and policies be better reflected, implemented and created to protect the environment and natural resources during armed conflict?
• How can the Security Council promote action on the environment as part of conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding strategies?
• What role can member states play to encourage the protection of the environment and natural resources in armed conflict situations?
• How can the Security Council promote accountability and fair reparations in cases in which there is a negative environmental impact due to armed conflict?
• How can the UN enhance cooperation and responses to environmental disasters caused by warfare?
The concept note reflects Kuwait’s first-hand experience with the adverse environmental impacts of armed conflict. It describes the burning of Kuwaiti oil wells in February 1991 by retreating Iraqi forces, and asserts: “To this day, the State of Kuwait is still dealing with the environmental impact of war.”