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Ukraine must demand compensation from Russia for environmental damage of war

There are very few cases of compensation for environmental damage of war

(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – Ukraine can and must demand compensation from Russia for the environmental damage of war. Kyiv must continue to keep track of the degradation of ecosystems and pollution caused by the conflict. In a systematic way and with the most reliable methodology, which can also serve as an example for future conflicts involving other countries. It must then develop a legal strategy to bring the case to any international court. And carefully plan a post-war reconstruction attentive to the environment and climate.

This is supported by the final report on the environmental damage of war prepared by a group of 12 high-level experts and commissioned by the Ukrainian government last year. Among the authors, who presented a list of 50 recommendations, were the architect of the Paris Agreement Laurence Tubiana, former UN Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, and EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius.

A model for dealing with the environmental damage of war?

Today the theme of compensation for environmental damage of war is almost no man’s land. Although international conventions provide for certain types of environmental war crimes, they have rarely been used effectively and successfully to quantify compensation. If we exclude the case of Iraq, which was convicted of the 1991 attack on Kuwait, all the other instances went ahead only because there was the mutual will of the belligerents to take the case to court.

Kiev tries to take a step forward with this relationship. “Ukraine can be an example for the world. We must do it well, so that the environment is no longer a silent victim nor is it seen as a luxury to return to only after a war is over“, reads the preface.

One of the central points is the methodology by which the environmental damage of war is monitored and quantified. There is no one shared and consolidated internationally, so it’s about building it from almost zero. This is what Ukraine has been doing for 2 years, and the report recommends continuing to structure in close collaboration with international experts. Focusing mainly on the impact of mines – today 20% of the Ukrainian territory is mined, an area as large as Northern Italy, and the country hosts 35% of European biodiversity – which deteriorates over the years releases toxic chemicals into the environment, and the devastation that followed the collapse of the Kakhovka Dam last year. By also monitoring cross-border impacts, such as those on the Black Sea.

There are also legal recommendations. These include strengthening cooperation with the International Criminal Court, to which Kiev turned two years ago, and the ratification of the Rome Statute on which the ICC itself is based. In addition to ensuring that the collection of evidence is carried out in a manner compatible with international standards in this field. The report also suggests filing a lawsuit with the ICC over the specific case of the Kakhovka Dam collapse, by most observers attributed to the Russian armed forces in a deliberate act. The ICC, for its part, according to the authors of the report should include the crime of ecocide among the prosecutable cases in its mandate.

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