November 6 is set by the United Nations General Assembly in Resolution (A/RES/56/4) as the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.
Throughout history; in armed conflicts water wells have been poisoned, crops set on fire, forests cut down, and animals killed to gain military advantage. Today, many armed conflicts have been linked to the exploitation of natural resources such as timber, diamonds, and fertile land and water.
The Association of World Citizens has stressed that protection of the environment needs to be an important part of conflict prevention.
The resource base that people depend upon for their livelihood needs to be safeguarded.
Most recently; the Association of World Citizens has highlighted the deliberate destruction of food-related resources in the armed conflict between the Ethiopean federal forces and the opposition movements in Tigray.
Image: Ethiopian national defense force 2nd Lt. Aweke Demesse talks with his troops on where to station their perimeter watches during Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s “Train the Trainer” course. By right, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
The restoration of the agricultural infrastructure will be a lengthy process.
Since 4 November 2020; fighting has gone on in Tigray with the deliberate destruction of crops and agricultural infrastructures. U.N.-led humanitarian food relief was prevented from entering the area. Fortunately; at the start of November 2022; a ceasefire and a peace agreement facilitated by the African Union was signed in South Africa; where the negotiations had been held.
The African Union has designated a team of 10 persons to follow up the process. However; the restoration of the agricultural infrastructure will be a lengthy process. It is not sure that all the factions involved will agree to the creasefire. The situation merits a close watch.
Efforts of protection need to be permanent.
There are currently other conflicts linked to natural resources such as those in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The International Day must serve as a reminder; but efforts of protection need to be permanent.
The Association of World Citizens will continue its efforts.
René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.