Environment and war

tree1Yesterday was the International Day for the Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict (A/RES/56/4). Some food for thought related to that… 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. This is against Islamic laws of war (e.g. here in key words, and general jurisprudence on the environment). Abu Bakr as-Siddiq commanded the leader of the first Islamic military expedition after the Prophet saying: “…No fruit-bearing trees are to be cut down and no crops should be set on fire. No animal should be killed except those slaughtered for eating…Only those should be killed who take up arms against you.

Also, 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 Guardian has also published a thought provoking article on the impact of modern war.

For some useful guidance on Islamic law of war, check ‘Jihad and the Islamic Law of War‘ by the Jordanian Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute of Islamic Thought published in 2007.

I hope to have a chance to see Virunga, national park: “the incredible true story of a group of brave people risking their lives to build a better future in a part of Africa the world’s forgotten and a gripping expose of the realities of life in the Congo” at risk from oil companies.