What The UN Needs To Improve With The Protection Of The Environment In Areas Of Armed Conflict

What The UN Needs To Improve With The Protection Of The Environment In Areas Of Armed Conflict

In any attempt to rebuild war-torn nations and regions, environmental preservation and natural resources play vital roles.

There is an urgent importance for measures to circumvent environmental damage in conflict prevention and preservation. Exploitation and subsequent depletion of resources, in the past sixty years, have been found to have caused 40 percent of civil wars, though other tensions and conflicts may overlay this root cause. Resource-triggered conflicts are more likely to relapse than other types of civil hostilities, but peacebuilding efforts are still unlikely to engage in resource management. Exploitation of resources can often be used as a tactic to undermine peacebuilding efforts. In any attempt to rebuild war-torn nations and regions, environmental preservation and natural resources play vital roles. They are necessary to successfully create sustainability, recover the economy, reform government, create dialogue and resettle displaced peoples.

Since conflicts due to the depletion of resources can further exacerbate damage to the environment of that region, it is crucial that member states and the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) work collaboratively to assess and address the effects of conflict. The UN’s use of Post-Conflict Needs Assessments (PCNAs) often fails to fully account for the connection between sustainability, conflict prevention, and natural resources. The World Bank report, "Review of Experiences with Post-Conflict Needs Assessments," suggests a need for the PCNA process to be streamlined within UN agencies, in order to build capacity for information-gathering and use resources efficiently. The Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques (ENMOD) also suggests that all state parties agree to refrain in military or other means of environmental modification techniques, which present a possibility of lasting or severe environmental damages for the purposes of damaging other states parties. The ICRC is expected to release a new guideline in 2018, and the UN looks forward to working with the international community and raising the standard to which they hold themselves in light of these new developments.

The Disasters and Conflicts Program, under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has also provided environmental expertise to over 40 countries on post-crisis environmental assessment and recovery, allowing for peacebuilding processes to be more closely informed by resource management. The operations focus on human health, security, livelihood, disaster risk reduction and environmental cooperation for peacebuilding, and have had success in many African and Eastern European countries, among others. The Disasters and Conflicts program has had great success in the Sahel region in “climate-proofing” development with consideration for conflict.

The United Arab Emirates recommend that existing post-conflict environmental assessments and recovery measures be strengthened and expanded in order to reduce their vulnerability. Through the UNEP Disasters and Conflicts Program, the UN should create a protocol on climate change vulnerability assessment, for both preventative and reactive measures, which could be supplemental to a PCNA. Through this protocol, the UNEP should identify potential conflict hotspots through national and regional assessments of the distribution and availability of key resources, as well as the impact conflict has had on the region's environment and resources. The expansion of the PCNA program will help both the UN and peacebuilding teams to fill gaps in with knowledge and mainstream conflict sensitivity.

There should be an incorporation of “natural resource scarcity and risk” assessment within pre-existing UN Early Warning for Preventing Conflict programs, where they are lacking. UN early warning systems should include capacities for the following factors: unsustainable livelihoods, resource governance, and resource scarcity. By requesting that all UN agencies incorporate assessments of their projects specifically with attention to conflict and climate change, a more complete picture of needs, risks, and best practices can be available to peacebuilding teams.

Cover Image Credit: Daria Nepriakhina / Unsplash

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.

What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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News Flash: 'Building The Wall' Is Still A Dumb Idea And Always Will Be

The government is still partially shutdown because of funding for the wall. Really?


A man who is a strong supporter of building the wall told me this metaphor: If you don't want the wrong people walking into your backyard, you put a fence up. We don't want the wrong people coming to America, so we put a wall up. I respect people's political beliefs, and because of this, I want to share mine.

I believe that President Trump demanding money to build a border wall is dumb.

It's hard to believe so many people really think that this "build a wall" has everything to do about border security. It's just inhumane and wrong.

Literally, the most notorious drug lord of Mexico has shed light about how he smuggles the drug into the U.S. They have brought it through fishing boats, trucks going through the legal point of entry, underground tunnel, but not through unwalled parts. The half of million pounds of narcotics that were secured at the border? They were all al legal points of entry.

I'm saying this because I am a proud daughter of immigrants who crossed the border. The media has portrayed immigrants as these horrible people infiltrating our country. They just want somewhere safe to live to raise their kid.

The conditions of Latin American countries are inexplicable. Communist have risen from the ashes dominating these countries letting people rot on the street starving. There are little to no job opportunities. I haven't seen my family in three years because it is dangerous to go.

The media doesn't tell you this. They don't tell you how many people have gone to the border and returned to Mexico because ICE agents tear gas them.

They tell you that they throw babies over fences to distract border patrol agents. They tell you children are dying because of malnutrition of trekking thousands of miles to get the border. They don't tell you that those same children have been eating unmonitored food with thousands of microorganism some mal some good.

Not all immigrants are not bad people. The notions that all immigrants are criminals is "fake news." It has been a hook, line, and sinker for the Republican Party. There are studies such as one from the journal Criminology showing that places with high undocumented immigrant population does not equal high crime.

Should undocumented citizens attempt to become legal residents of the United States? Absolutely, and that is a problem if they are evading taxes and other legal notions with more consequences.

However, we should not lie to ourselves and act as a wall is to help border security against drugs and crime. It's just a physical quota like 1920s immigration laws. There is a better solution then sacrificing 5.7 billion dollars. Let me translate that: 5,700,000,000 dollars. That is our taxes. As a college student, I rather have those 5.7 billion dollars be translated to scholarship, grants, financial aid, and helping us, the future of this country become the best people we can be. Why build a wall when the future of America, who I personally think is more important can be helped.

I don't come from a rich family, and I don't have the means to afford a college education without loans, so when I hear that the Government can afford to give 5.7 billion dollars for a wall, I have the right to be upset. Tell me I'm wrong, and call me dumb, but this is my unpopular opinion.


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