Workshop report: Protecting civilians means protecting the environment, 3rd April 2014
The Toxic Remnants of War Project organised a side event during the CCW Protocol V Group of Governmental Experts meeting in Geneva. The aim was to provide delegations and agencies with an overview of the TRW issue and focus in on two topics that the TRWP has recently worked on: the toxicological screening of munitions constituents and the need for more detailed environmental assessment in conflict and post-conflict settings.
TRWP Project Manager Doug Weir provided an overview of the TRW framing, discussing how principles from human rights and environmental law could help inform a new approach that improves the protection of civilians and the environment during and after conflict. A classification system for TRW was discussed, as was the report submitted to the ICRC’s 31st conference on the necessity of strengthening protection for the environment in conflict. DOWNLOAD PRESENTATION
TRWP Researcher Dr Mohamed Ghalaieny, introduced attendees to principles of environmental toxicology and the need to improve environmental assessment, noting how it had been key in defining past incidents of toxic harm. In considering recent developments in the toxicological screening of munitions constituents, he presented the factors that currently motivate militaries and asked whether protection of civilians could also form part of analyses when risks are considered. He concluded by presenting a methodology that could be used in the Syrian city of Aleppo, where building materials, energetic materials and combustion products may all be present and may present a health risk to civilians. [DOWNLOAD PRESENTATION]
Several questions were asked by delegations and organisations, these included whether the public health legacy of TRW incidents was currently being documented and what the scope and goal of an initiative on TRW might look like.