By

Preface For “Toxic Remnants Of War” Publication

 

In 2014, Widad was invited to write a preface for the publication entitled Pollution Politics: power, accountability and toxic remnants of war. The publication was launched during an event held in London on 2 July 2014, and chaired by Widad.

“It is believed that toxic remnants of war may likely be associated with the risk of birth defects, the risk of developing certain forms of cancer, or may adversely affect the neurological development of children and the reproductive processes of humans and animals. They may also impair the function of the respiratory and immune systems, compromising the ability to respond to pathogens and other harmful organisms.

Across the world, the lack of accountability for the harm to the environment and public health caused by conflict and military activities undermines global efforts to help fragile countries recover from armed conflicts.”

 

 

 

Pollution Politics: Power, Accountability and Toxic Remnants of War

Published in 2014 by Toxic Remnants of War Project

Country of publication: United Kingdom

Language: English

 

 

Preface

Toxic remnants of war (TRW) represent a profound challenge for the protection of public health and the restoration of the environment in countries affected by conflict. Although a detailed analysis of the TRW-related determinants of health remains to be conducted, the specific impacts of toxic contaminants on local populations and their habitats are slowly being documented and further information has been obtained through interviews and observations. Research has demonstrated that hazardous toxic chemicals from military waste, such as heavy metals, fuel hydrocarbons, radioactive materials, unexploded ordnance waste, and endocrine disrupting compounds, may have long-term effects on civilian health and wellbeing. It is believed that TRW may likely be associated with the risk of birth defects, the risk of developing certain forms of cancer, or may adversely affect the neurological development of children and the reproductive processes of humans and animals. They may also impair the function of the respiratory and immune systems, thereby compromising the ability to respond to pathogens and other harmful organisms.

Across the world, the lack of accountability for the harm to the environment and public health caused by conflict and military activities undermines global efforts to help fragile countries recover from armed conflicts. Lack of accountability weakens the environmental and health rights of citizens; it damages peace- building and reconciliation initiatives; impedes the implementation of global health policies; leads to the loss of ecosystems and biodiversity; and weakens democracy, justice, human rights, and international security.

In recent years, academics, policy-makers, and experts have raised the question of the applicability of peacetime environmental law in times of armed conflict. In this context, this report is timely as it offers an assessment of conflict pollution, the current accountability mechanisms, and how to improve them. It creates a foundation for the development of new mechanisms that can properly evaluate the execution of military operations with respect to environmental and health considerations.

I commend ‘Pollution Politics: power, accountability and toxic remnants of war’ as an important contribution to debate over how states, UN agencies, NGOs, and other stakeholders can work together to reduce the devastating health and environmental burdens linked to armed conflicts. The proposed approach requires insights from military researchers, epidemiologists, public health practitioners, human rights activists, clinicians, environmentalists, and biologists, and uniquely combines networking and research from various disciplines relevant to military practices, public health policy, and environmental regulations. We hope that this publication will encourage the international community to collaboratively and efficiently solve this long-neglected problem.

Dr. Widad

 

Citation

Please cite this publication as:

Kellay, A. (2014). Pollution politics: power, accountability and toxic remnants of war. UK: Toxic Remnants of War Project.