Monday, November 8, 2010

For the Environment, Against War

The sixth of November has been designated as the International Day for the Prevention of the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict by the UN. The Center  for Peace and Environment has convened an international seminar each year (except for 2009, for obvious reasons) commemorating this occasion. Members of the international community in Tehran as well as Ambassadors from various countries of the world are invited to take part in the ceremony.
 I stressed upon the vulnerability of the region and the previous wars which have inflicted irreparable  damage on the ecosystem of the Persian Gulf and the natural resources of the Middle East in my opening speech. I referred to the breakdown of infrastructures in Lebanon, Gaza and Iraq and how that may lead to vast pollution and unhealthy conditions. I also mentioned the degradation of natural resources in Iraq and  Afghanistan due to the long occupation and war. I called upon the international community to urge restraint and peaceful resolution of conflicts particularly dealing with Iran. Dr. Mohaghegh Damad who is a scholar of Islamic studies also noted of the references in Islamic scripture and texts to the importance of protecting nature and resources in times of war and conflict.

Consule Vidal the UN Resident Coordinator delivered the speech of the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon who stressed that we should also regard nature as a potential for conflict resolution and mutual collaboration among nations. In the panel disucssion, the Ambassador of Croatia who is also a Professor of Environmental Studies, spoke about the environmental dangers of war in residential areas after demolition of homes . The representative of the Red Cross, in his speech, also  indicated that his organization plans to be more active in the area of environmental challenges during natural disasters and relief programs.

The session ended with a question and answer session as well as a final communique in which all participants stressed upon the importance of maintaining peace and preventing conflict for the protection of the environment in all parts of the world, particularly the Middle East.

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