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.

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Will Enough Ever Be Enough?

Yet another school shooting in America, still nothing done. We are dying.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018: We are all heartbroken to hear about another school shooting.

At Great Mills High School in Maryland, a 17-year-old male is pronounced dead at the scene after shooting two other students and a school resource officer. Just before their first period started, at 7:55 am, Austin Rollins shot one male and one female student with a handgun before being shot by the school's resource officer. While the 16-year-old female is in critical condition, the 14-year-old male is currently stable. This is the 17th school shooting in 2018. That's 17 days out of the past 80 that parents have gone to bed with their children in body bags as a result of gun violence.

I don't care what political party you associate with, gun violence is completely out of control. I am a registered Republican and completely agree with stricter gun laws. Learn the difference between a gun ban and sales control. Concerned citizens are not trying to take away your guns, but are trying to take away the rights from those that are risks.

Could you imagine legally having to send your child to school but never coming back? You've packed their lunch, maybe with a special note, and gave them a kiss before they left for school, not knowing that it was their last. No matter where we go, we are not safe. We can't go to malls, movie theaters, schools, or even churches without having to worry if it will be our last trip. Our homes, our places of worship, and our schools are supposed to be the places where we feel safest and, instead, our children are filled with fear. Instead of focusing on the political views that divide these groups, why don't we focus on what unites us? Why don't we focus on protecting our kin?

Everyone has had an opinion on the walkouts that have been happening around the country. Everyone has had an opinion on the 17 minutes of silence for the 17 children lost in the Florida shooting. I've seen people disgusted that Nickelodeon had 17 minutes of broadcast cut because it "interrupted the only program [I] let [my] children watch".

If your child was shot at school, you wouldn't have to worry about what programs they watch, but rather where to bury them and how to afford their memorial.

I've seen people saying that it's no wonder that Millenials are dumb. They "find any excuse to cut class". Have you thought about the fact that they are genuinely worried about going to school?

Personally, I've experienced both a shooting scare at my high school and a bomb threat at my college. I shouldn't have to worry about my life ending. I'm legally forced to go to high school and get an education or I'm putting myself into a lifetime of debt to get a degree.

We are all too young to stress about gun violence. Our school years are supposed to be the times our of lives, but they're being wasted on worrying about dying every day.

Rest in peace to all of those who have lost their lives in shootings, not only this year, but always. Hopes, thoughts, and prayers go out to their loved ones. One day, we will unite and find a solution.

We need to work together and forget the labels of parties and cliques in school and look out for one another instead. There is no kind but mankind.

Cover Image Credit: Boston Herald

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The Republican Versus Democrat Stigma Needs To Slow Down

We Need To Be Individual Again

We as a society have developed an unnecessary need to place people in a specific party based on what could be a single value out of many. This is a letter for those who do not define themselves as one or the other; for those whose values range between conservative and liberal, for those who feel the unfortunate pressure of society to choose one even though your values do not fit just one.

The political parties at one point generally just meant “these are my basic beliefs, so this is the candidate I will vote for because they most closely represent them.” Party affiliation was harmless. Republicans and Democrats could get along fine, differing opinions not getting in the way of relationships and alignment. More importantly, you did not have to be part of a specific political party to be an active member of society. Your opinions and principles were yours.

Over the years following the last two election races, political parties gained a much more significant and defining meaning in our lives as individuals and as members of society. There is a newly developed stigma behind political opinions. You are almost pressured to feel one way or another about every single topic. If a majority of your values are of the conservative agenda, you must be a heart-and-all Republican. In contrast, if you are more liberal-leaning you are docked as a set Democrat. We as citizens are being labeled according to what may be a few hard-values. And dishearteningly enough, can be ridiculed for what we value. Even if you might not value everything the same as your determined party.

There exists those of us that hold values from both parties. It is possible to value women’s rights and also value a traditional marriage. It is possible to be a gun owner and also active in keeping children safe in school. You do not have to just submit to every belief of one party. You can value aspects of different parties and still be a functioning member of the American society. Do not let the looming obligation to declare yourself as strictly one or the other. You do not have to pretend you agree with everything Democratic or everything Republican; you can have your own values. And you should. Our society is messed up in the way that values are pushed on citizens. We are meant to be free individuals with our private values.

It is not fair to those of us who value different things. Not every American is a to-the-bone Democrat or Republican. It is possible to hold liberal beliefs as a conservative person. And Vice-Versa. We need to stop labeling one another as one or the other, conservative or liberal. We need to stop silencing each other because we have differing views. We need to accept not everyone is perfectly one party, and diversity exists. Open mindedness exists in Americans, despite the seemingly growing generalizations. We need to be able to agree to disagree on certain topics.
Cover Image Credit: LexiHanna

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