Another significant (although grim) international day.

International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, 6th November.

In 2001, the UN General Assembly declared 6 November of each year as the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. See http://sdg.iisd.org/news/environmental-protection-must-be-priority-in-times-of-conflict-say-un-officials/

This ‘day’ to promote this concerning issue seems like a step in the right direction. Wildlife, as well as natural resources like oil and timber, is often looted during and after conflicts, and mountains like Mt Rwenzori and the Virunga National Park on the border of the DRC and Uganda in Africa, have had their fair share of poaching, illegal logging and ongoing criminality in the post-DRC conflict years.

Caring for the environment both in peacetime and during war is critical for realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Ban said that, in the aftermath of violent conflict, governments need natural resources such as land, timber, minerals, oil and gas to support livelihoods and economic recovery, and highlighted that the way these resources are managed can alter the course of post-conflict peace building.

Environmental destruction can impact the delivery of humanitarian assistance and post-war recovery, and can drive migration. He added that wars start and are perpetuated because of natural resources, and underscored that environmental protection must play a prominent role in responses to conflict. While steps have been taken to prevent environmental harm before and after armed conflict, governments have yet to commit to legally binding rules during armed conflict. Reaffirming the importance of this issue, the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), in May 2016, adopted a resolution committing countries to protect the environment in areas affected by armed conflict. For its part, the UN International Law Commission is developing a set of “principles” that focus on preventive and post-conflict measures to protect the environment, including post-conflict environmental assessments and remedial measures, the sharing and granting of access to information, environmental impact assessments of peace operations, and the establishment of protective zones of environmental and cultural interest, which are important for protecting fragile ecosystems and ensuring the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has also stated that environmental crimes should be regarded as “priority areas in terms of determining the gravity of the crimes,” and, according to the International Court of Justice, a growing number of disputes coming before the ICC identify environmental protection as a concern.