UNEA resolution 3/1 Pollution mitigation and control in areas affected by armed conflict or terrorism was the first UN resolution to directly address the health and environmental impact of conflict pollution and the toxic remnants of war. In doing so it underscored the linkages between conflict pollution, environmental degradation, sustainable development and the enjoyment of human rights. It is of paramount importance to build on the norm established by the resolution, and to identify policies that can translate its normative content into actions. By doing so, the resolution could help protect people and ecosystems in areas affected by armed conflicts, and contribute towards addressing wider challenges around environmental security.
By their nature, armed conflicts generate pollution, create the conditions where polluting practices can flourish, and impede the ability of states to address harm. Nevertheless, there are measures that can be taken to help to prevent and minimise the generation of conflict pollution and, where it does occur, to reduce its impact on the health and wellbeing of people and the environment. This is a field where UN Environment has considerable experience, and the Implementation Plan should draw on this. This work would also help build on the recommendations made by UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteurs on toxics and human rights in relation to armed conflicts and the toxic remnants of war.
The recommendations for inclusion in the Plan that are outlined below adopt a temporal approach to the problem, and consider legislative and technical approaches, and the role of partnerships. A number of the recommendations consider the role of UN Environment and reflect operative paragraph nine of the resolution, which requested that the Executive Director “…explore ways of improving the Programme’s work on pollution threats arising from armed conflict or terrorism”. Our recommendations aim to demonstrate there are numerous opportunities for UN Environment and its partners to contribute towards enhancing the protection of people and the environment from armed conflict.