Make environmental damage a war crime, 24 scientists say

Make environmental damage a war crime, scientists say

According to an open letter by 24 prominent scientists published in the journal Nature, the international lawmaking authorities should call for a fifth Geneva convention to protect nature reserves and wildlife, particularly in conflict regions.

The signatories of this letter also urged the lawmakers to incorporate safeguard for wildlife including the ban of spreading of hunting weapons, protections of natural reserves and wildlife.

The UN International Law Commission has drawn 28 principles for the protection of the environment, particularly in war zones. They are set to hold a meeting in this regard.

Sarah Durant, a Professor in Zoological Society of London, who is also among the signatories of this open letter, said that these 28 principles drawn by the UN International Law Commission were a considerable step forward and it should also be expanded to be adopted across the world.

She said, “The brutal toll of war on the natural world is well documented, destroying the livelihoods of vulnerable communities and driving many species, already under intense pressure, towards extinction.”

She further added, “We hope governments around the world will enshrine these protections into international law. This would not only help safeguard threatened species, but would also support rural communities, both during and post-conflict, whose livelihoods are long-term casualties of environmental destruction.”

Recently, in the Sahara-Sahel region, the collapsing the number of gazelles, cheetahs and other wildlife species have been linked to guns’ spreading following the civil war in Libya. The war between Sudan and Mali have also caused killings of the elephants.

Another signatory, José Brito who is working at the University of Porto, said: “The impacts of armed conflict are causing additional pressure to imperiled wildlife from the Middle East and North Africa. Global commitment is needed to avoid the likely extinction of emblematic desert fauna over the next decade.”

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