Stop military conflicts from trashing environment

Zoological Society of London, UK.

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University of Porto, Portugal.

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The United Nations’ International Law Commission is meeting this month to push forward a 2013 programme to protect the environment in regions of armed conflict ( We call on governments to incorporate explicit safeguards for biodiversity, and to use the commission’s recommendations to finally deliver a Fifth Geneva Convention to uphold environmental protection during such confrontations.

Despite calls for a fifth convention two decades ago, military conflict continues to destroy megafauna, push species to extinction and poison water resources (see, for example, J. C. Brito et al. Conserv. Lett.; 2018). The uncontrolled circulation of arms exacerbates the situation, for instance by driving unsustainable hunting of wildlife.

A Fifth Geneva Convention would provide a multilateral treaty that includes legal instruments for site-based protection of crucial natural resources. Companies and governments need to work together to regulate arms transfer (see And the military industry must be held more accountable for the impact of its activities.

Nature 571, 478 (2019)

Supported by 22 signatories; see supplementary information.

Supplementary Information

  1. List of co-signatories

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