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  • Author: Elaine (Lan Yin) Hsiao
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Institution: The Goettingen Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: It has often been cited that major armed conflicts (>1,000 casualties) afflicted two-thirds (23) of the world’s recognized biodiversity hotspots between 1950 and 2000.1 In 2011, the International Law Commission (ILC) included in its long-term work program Protection of the Environment in Relation to Armed Conflict.2 This led to the adoption of twenty-eight Draft Principles, including designation of protected zones where attacks against the environment are prohibited during armed conflict.3 Protected zone designations apply to places of major environmental and cultural importance, requiring that they “[...] shall be protected against any attack, as long as it does not contain a military objective.”4 Most research on armed conflict and protected areas has focused on impacts to wildlife and less on how to protect these natural habitats from the ravages of armed conflict.5 This article highlights some of the gaps in the ILC Draft Principles towards protecting protected zones in bello. It uses transboundary protected areas (TBPAs) formalized through multilateral agreements to illustrate challenges on the ground. TBPAs are internationally designated “[...] protected areas that are ecologically connected across one or more international boundaries [...]” and sometimes even established for their promotion of peace (i.e., Parks for Peace).6 There is little legal research on how to design TBPA agreements for conflict resilience, conflict sensitivity, and ultimately positive peace.7 The research draws from two case studies in Africa’s Great Rift Valley: the Greater Virunga Landscape (GVL) between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and Uganda, and the Kidepo Landscape, which forms part of the broader Landscapes for Peace initiative between South Sudan and Uganda. Both suffer from armed conflicts of various types and present two of the only TBPAs in the world that have incorporated environmental peacebuilding into their transboundary agreements.8 The case studies illustrate different approaches to TBPA design and the pros and cons of each modality in the context of conflict resilience and conflict sensitivity. This guides us on how to better protect protected areas in bello, ensuring that protected zones endure on the ground and not just in principle.
  • Topic: Environment, Culture, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda