International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict is annually held on November 6. It aims to educate or create awareness to people about the damaging effects of war and armed conflict on the environment. On 5 November 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 (A/RES/56/4).

International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict

Though mankind has always counted its war casualties in terms of dead and wounded soldiers and civilians, destroyed cities and livelihoods, the environment has often remained the unpublicized victim of war. Water wells have been polluted, crops torched, forests cut down, soils poisoned, and animals killed to gain military advantage.

Furthermore, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has found that over the last 60 years, at least 40 percent of all internal conflicts have been linked to the exploitation of natural resources, whether high-value resources such as timber, diamonds, gold and oil, or scarce resources such as fertile land and water. Conflicts involving natural resources have also been found to be twice as likely to relapse.

Furthermore, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has found that over the last 60 years, at least 40 percent of all internal conflicts have been linked to the exploitation of natural resources, whether high-value resources such as timber, diamonds, gold and oil, or scarce resources such as fertile land and water. Conflicts involving natural resources have also been found to be twice as likely to relapse.

What Do People Do?

Many people around the world, including government officials, scientists, journalists, educators, and business people, observe the UN’s International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. Those who take part in the day spend time discussing about how the effects of war are damaging to the natural environment. They also work together to find ways to limit environmental destruction caused by armed conflict and war.

Seminars, speeches, lectures, news articles, radio talks, and classroom activities in schools that focus on the topic are some of the events that take place on this day. People learn and share information about the dangers of new technologies in war such as depleted uranium ammunition, which poses unknown threats to the environment. People around the world are also made aware that all efforts must be taken to limit environmental destruction caused by conflict.

War and armed conflict has many damaging effects on the natural environment. For example, crops are destroyed, water supplies are poisoned and forests are burnt. New technology that is used for war means that the destruction and damage of the environment is more serious and the long-term consequences can be worse.

On November 5, 2001, the UN General Assembly declared November 6 of each year as the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict (resolution 56/4). The assembly considered that that any environmental damage in times of armed conflict impairs ecosystems and natural resources long after the period of conflict. This damage can often extend beyond the limits of national territories and today’s generation. The assembly also recalled the United Nations Millennium Declaration, which emphasized the necessity of working to protect the environment.

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