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Thursday, February 13, 2003

The UNEP's Dr. Klaus Toepfer has said that the world needs safeguards to protect the environment that match the Geneva Conventions and that the environment is often neglected as "the long-term casualty of war".

The UNEP's Post Conflict Unit has found that soot released by oil wells set on fire during the last Gulf War had increased death rates in Kuwait by 10% over the following year, landmines left in Afghanistan, Cambodia + Bosnia still pose a serious threat to life and keep people off productive farmland + that many conflicts have been fuelled by greed for natural resources: for example Angola's Unita rebels were estimated to have made more than $4bn from diamonds between 1992 and 2001...

"We have an alliance against terrorism", Dr Toepfer said. "We need an alliance against poverty, and solidarity with the marginalised.

"Putting poverty to the sword is the peace policy of the 21st Century." But we had to go further, he said, and outlaw those who deliberately put the environment at risk in war.

"We have the Geneva Conventions, aimed at safeguarding the rights of prisoners and civilians. We need similar safeguards for the environment.

"Using the environment as a weapon must be universally condemned, and denounced as an international crime against humankind, against Nature."