International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of
the Environment in War and Armed Conflict 

6 November


On 5 November 2001, the UN General Assembly declared 6 November of each year as the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict (A/RES/56/4).

Though mankind has always counted its war casualties in terms of dead and wounded soldiers and civilians, destroyed cities and livelihoods, the environment has often remained the unpublicized victim of war.Water wells have been polluted, crops torched, forests cut down, soils poisoned, and animals killed to gain military advantage.

Furthermore, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has found that over the last 60 years, at least 40 percent of all internal conflicts have been linked to the exploitation of natural resources, whether high-value resources such as timber, diamonds, gold and oil, or scarce resources such as fertile land and water. Conflicts involving natural resources have also been found to be twice as likely to relapse.

The United Nations attaches great importance to ensuring that action on the environment is part of conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding strategies – because there can be no durable peace if the natural resources that sustain livelihoods and ecosystems are destroyed.

On 27 May 2016, the United Nations Environment Assembly adopted resolution UNEP/EA.2/Res.15, which recognized the role of healthy ecosystems and sustainably managed resources in reducing the risk of armed conflict, and reaffirmed its strong commitment to the full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals listed in General Assembly resolution 70/1, entitled “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/events/environmentconflictday/


destruction of the environment as a military tactic

Destruction of the environment was a “military tactic” that began as early as the twelfth century BC in the Assyrians, who used “destruction of the life-support system, not as part of siege tactics but as recompense for a rebellious enemy – one that was either defeated or that could not be defeated” (emphasis added).

“I shut him up in his city, carried off the grain of his fields, cut down his orchards”, says the Assyrian King Shalmaneser III (858-824 BC) in his eighth year in battles against the rebels in Babylonia.

(ARAB 1:229 §620, retrieved from Hasel, Michael G. “Assyrian Military Practices and Deuteronomy’s Laws of Warfare.” In Writing and Reading War: Rhetoric, Gender, and Ethics in Biblical and Modern Contexts, Brad E. Kelle and Frank Ritchel Ames., 67–83. Symposium Series. Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2008.)