Earth Organization letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations
Re: WILDLIFE IN WAR ZONES: UNITED NATIONS RESOLUTION
One of the historically neglected consequences of armed conflict is environmental damage.
Much armed conflict is caused by or related to competition for environmental resources. Addressing environmental concerns during armed conflict is the subject of a large body of literature and international law.
We believe that it is impossible to reconcile armed conflict with the preservation of the environment inasmuch as it is impossible to reconcile armed conflict with human pain and suffering.
Moreover, armed conflict is only one expression of the ethical failure by human beings to properly protect their natural environment and its dependant life forms.
However, having accepted the nature of the task, we firmly believe, and are advised, that certain interventions are possible to provide adequate protection for zoos, wildlife and marine reserves and associated medical and research facilities, and the persons who work there during armed conflict. Many such facilities are or are fast becoming the modern Noahs Ark enabling the world to appreciate, preserve, study, and better understand our biodiversity until a lasting and sustainable solution is achieved.
We propose eight strategic interventions by the international community which we believe will provide the mechanism for ensuring that the Ark floats. These interventions include:
(i) The prohibition of the use of zoos, or wildlife conservation areas, or marine reserves, or associated research facilities, or veterinary facilities as military bases during armed conflict;
(ii) The prohibition of the targeting of the same during armed conflict;
(iii) A duty of care on states in which armed conflict occurs to protect same.
(iv) The accreditation of wildlife personnel and their protection under international law;
(v) A duty on non-parties to assume the duties of conflicting parties who are unable to fulfill their obligation in respect of trans-boundary wildlife areas and marine parks during armed conflict;
(vi) The inclusion of conservation and environmental experts in cease fire negotiations, monitoring and enforcement;
(vii) The intervention and the deployment of force by the security council in extreme cases where the extinction of a species or irreversible destruction of a protected natural habitat is a fait accompli should the intervention not occur;
(viii) The recognition of certain deliberate and irreversible acts of environmental or animal life destruction as war crimes.
Such a resolution is practical, viable, and long overdue.
The submission has its origins in The Earth Organizations historical involvement in initiatives to protect wildlife in war zones, including the rescue of wild animals in Baghdad during the Coalition invasion of Iraq, and our intervention in the Ugandan civil war where the Lords Resistance Army [LRA] have based themselves exclusively on wild lands and a game reserve.
The latter resulted in an agreement between the LRA and The Earth Organization being submitted at the United Nations peace talks at Juba in Southern Sudan, wherein the LRA formally undertook to protect endangered species in their area of operations, namely Northern Uganda, Southern Sudan and DRC, and to unilaterally extend their cease fire with the Uganda government to include conservationists. This was the first time that such an agreement had been entered into UN Peace talks, and as such it has created a precedent and received positive attention from conservationists and scholars of international law.
Your support for this vital initiative is appreciated.
Founder - The Earth Organization