Armed Conflict and the Environment Specialist Group

Specialist Group Profile

Co-Chairs: Michael Bothe and Carl Bruch

The year in review

In 2012, the WCEL Specialist Group on Armed Conflict and the Environment continued its work on (1) legal protection of the environment in times of armed conflict, and (2) the role of natural resources in post-conflict peacebuilding.

The Specialist Group convened and participated in a series of events to share findings developed through research and dialogue over the previous three years, foster dialogue, and identify next steps. The key event in 2012 was an official WCEL-sanctioned workshop on “The Environment and Natural Resources During and After Armed Conflict: Lessons and Way Forward,” held at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in September. Members of the SG also participated in a Workshop on Protection of the Environment in Relation to Armed Conflict organized by Lund University on February 16 - 17, 2012; a Workshop on Exploring the Legal Framework for Toxic Remnants of War, convened by Freie Universität Berlin on June 22, 2012; and a consultation on the same topic held in Washington, DC, the following month. SG members also participated in a series of events to celebrate the ongoing launch of a series books on post-conflict peacebuilding and natural resource management, including in New York, Washington, DC, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro. SG members shared findings from the research on the two themes with Marie Jacobsson, who is leading the work of the International Law Commission on protection of the environment in relation to armed conflict. Several SG members are planning new events on the subject for 2013.

The Specialist Group continued to work with the Environmental Law Institute, the United Nations Environment Program, the University of Tokyo, and McGill University on producing a series of six edited books examining experiences in post-conflict natural resource management and peacebuilding. In 2012, Earthscan published the second in the series: Assessing and Restoring Natural Resources in Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, edited by David Jensen and Steve Lonergan. Substantial progress was made on the other four edited books (covering Land, Water, Livelihoods, and Governance), as well as on a seventh book (published by Cambridge University Press). A new website was launched ( that includes the case studies from the first book, and will eventually include case studies from all six edited books. With the books being finalized, the SG also started to consider ways to use the books in training courses and university curricula.