The Earth Organization – 2014-02-26 01:50:27
Wildlife in Warzones
Zoos, Wildlife Reserves and Animal Sanctuaries are fast becoming Noah’s Arks for critically endangered species. It is for this reason that The Earth Organization has presented the United Nations with a resolution that will protect captive wildlife in times of war.
This requires the protection of facilities where wild animals are kept temporarily or permanently, including facilities used for the preservation, research, breeding, treatment or study of wild animals, as well as the protection of people working at these facilities, local organizations and aid organizations.
The resolution also includes the reclassification of certain forms of damage to protected geographical areas during armed conflict as War Crimes in order to safeguard such areas as Wildlife and Marine Reserves.
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Draft Resolution: History
In early 2003, the American coalition forces invaded Iraq. South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony realized there would be no one looking after the Baghdad Zoo, the biggest zoo in the Middle East. He immediately left Thula Thula Game Reserve, his home in Zululand, South Africa, and headed for war-blockaded Kuwait.
Once there, Lawrence made his way into Iraq, becoming the first civilian (excluding media) to gain military access to Iraq and then, despite the extreme danger, simply hired a car and drove unarmed and unescorted 500 miles through the biggest war zone since Vietnam, right into the violent heart of Baghdad itself to bring relief to the animals.
Confronted by an appalling situation at the zoo, cut off from the world and completely surrounded by fighting and looting, Lawrence and a few loyal Iraqi zoo workers overcame every “can’t be done,” to begin the extraordinary rescue initiative of the terrified and emaciated animals.
Just finding and providing the most basic sustenance of food and water for the animals each day took heroic effort. Purchasing donkeys on the war torn streets to feed the lions and tigers and hauling buckets full of water from nearby canals, they kept the animals alive and defended the zoo against armed and aggressive looters.
Lawrence found himself a bed with the fighting troops and the tank crews of the US 3rd Infantry Division in the Al Rashid Hotel, and allied individual soldiers, Army photographers and foreign mercenaries to his cause, gaining desperately needed help and protection. Lawrence persuaded these new friends, in their off time, to help him rescue abused lions, cheetahs, and ostriches in brave and daring escapades from the Hussein family palaces.
US Army Captain William Sumner, who had been put in charge of the zoo area, joined him and together they became the “go to” guys at the Zoo. Brendan Whittington-Jones, Lawrence’s game reserve manager came out from South Africa to help, and together with Iraqi veterinarian Farah Murrani, and the few brave zoo staff, they formed an intrepid team, which secured the zoo and somehow kept the remaining animals alive and the zoo safe in extreme circumstances.
Extending the rescue initiative far beyond the borders of the zoo, the team conducted bold raids to rescue starving and dehydrated bears, wolves, monkeys, camels, and many other animals from horrific menageries in dangerous areas of Baghdad’s red zones, bringing them back to the zoo where they could be properly cared for.
Most amazingly the team located Saddam Hussein’s personal herd of Arabian horses, stolen during the invasion, and arranged an audacious military raid to retrieve them from the black market in the notorious Abu Ghraib area, and returned these priceless national treasures to the Iraqi people.
Lawrence’s work at the Baghdad Zoo earned him the coveted Earth Day Medal from the United Nations in New York. Lawrence’s experience is well documented in his book Babylon’s Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo. These experiences lead him down a new path.
On his return from the Middle East Lawrence launched a unique new international environmental group, The Earth Organization.
From the inception of The Earth Organization, it was clear that the only way to change the fate of animals in war zones would be to turn to the United Nations, the one body that has influence in conflict zones. And, thus, the Wildlife in War Zones draft resolution was born.
Of the many and varied environmental and conservation projects in which we are involved, the Wildlife in War Zones draft resolution has become a Flagship project for The Earth Organization, as it is a natural extension from our origins
The Draft Resolution:
REQUEST FOR THE PASSING OF A RESOLUTION CALLING ON MEMBER STATES TO PROTECT FACILITIES USED FOR THE PRESERVATION, RESEARCH, BREEDING, TREATMENT OR STUDY OF WILD ANIMALS AT WHICH WILD ANIMALS ARE KEPT TEMPORARILY OR PERMANENTLY AND WILDLIFE AND MARINE RESERVES DURING ARMED CONFLICT AND THE RECOGNITION OF THE NECESSITY FOR THE CONTINUANCE OF THE WORK OF PERSONS EMPLOYED AT SUCH FACILITIES AND LOCAL ORGANISATIONS AND AID ORGANISATIONS TASKED WITH THE PROTECTION, PRESERVATION AND TREATMENT OF WILD ANIMALS DURING ARMED CONFLICT AND THE RECOGNITION OF CERTAIN FORMS OF ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE DURING ARMED CONFLICT AS WAR CRIMES
The Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries have seen the rise of International Environmental Law in the face of impending environmental crises and the adoption by member states of obligations to conserve and protect the natural environment in situ and ex situ.
The devastating effect of armed conflict on programs for the preservation and study of wild animals ex situ is no more evident than in the abandonment and neglect of wild animals in captivity in times of armed conflict and in consequence:
AND ACKNOWLEDGING the obligation on member states to respect and protect the natural environment;
AND ACKNOWLEDGING the obligation on states to ensure that the activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environments of other states or areas beyond the limits of their jurisdiction;
AND ACKNOWLEDGING the obligation of states to develop national strategies, plans or programs for the conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity including:
(i) The identification and monitoring of biodiversity;
(ii) The adoption of in situ and ex situ conservation methods;
(iii) The establishment of programmes for research and training; and
(iv) The engagement in public education and awareness;
AND ACKNOWLEDGING that the establishment of facilities for the preservation, research, breeding, treatment or study of wild animals at which wild animals are temporarily or permanently kept and wildlife and marine reserves is a legitimate expression of stateÂ¹s obligations;
AND ACKNOWLEDGING that the Rules of International Law continue to apply during armed conflict;
AND ACKNOWLEDGING that facilities for the preservation, research, breeding, treatment and study of wild animals in which wild animals are temporarily or permanently kept and wildlife and marine reserves are essential for preserving and understanding biodiversity and for protecting endangered species and their destruction may constitute wide spread, long lasting and severe damage to the natural environment.
AND ACKNOWLEDGING that states must take environmental considerations into account when assessing what is necessary and proportionate in the pursuit of legitimate military objectives and that respect for the environment is one of the elements that goes to assessing whether an action is in conformity with the principles of necessity and proportionality;
AND ACKNOWLEDGING that specific instances of a dire threat to endangered species or protected habitats during armed conflict may result in permanent and severe harm and constitute the irreversible conclusion of widespread damage to the natural environment and further constitute an environmental emergency.
AND ACKNOWLEDGING that an intentional attack during armed conflict with the knowledge that such an attack will cause widespread, long term and severe damage to the natural environment and which would clearly be excessive to the overall military advantage anticipated constitutes a war crime.
AND ENDORSING the call for a Universal Declaration of Animal Welfare which speaks of a more humane treatment of animals;
AND, THEREFORE, calling on the United Nations to pass a Resolution:
I. EXPRESSING grave concern regarding the plight of wild animals in captivity and in the wild and the threat to wildlife and marine reserves in times of armed conflict;
II. AND ACKNOWLEDGING the need for the continuation of research and conservation during periods of armed conflict;
III. AND COMMENDING the sacrifice and bravery of those persons who continue to protect and maintain wild animals in captivity and wildlife and marine reserves during periods of armed conflict;
IV. AND CALLING on member states to enter into treaties and review existing treaties to provide for:
THE PROHIBITION on the use of facilities for the preservation, research, breeding, treatment and the study of wild animals at which wild animals are kept either temporarily or permanently and wildlife and marine reserves for military operations by member states during armed conflict;
THE PROHIBITION on the treatment of facilities for the preservation, research, breeding, treatment and study of wild animals at which wild animals are kept either temporarily or permanently or wildlife or marine reserves as military targets by member states unless such facilities or reserves have consistently and despite warning been used for military operations;
THE OBLIGATION on member states of parties involved in armed conflict to respect and protect facilities for the preservation, research, breeding, treatment or study of wild animals where wild animals are kept either temporarily or permanently and wildlife and marine reserves;
THE OBLIGATION to accord personnel who work in facilities for the preservation, research, breeding, treatment and study of wild animals where wild animals are kept either temporarily or permanently and wildlife and marine reserves with equivalent status and protection to medical and religious personnel under the Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocol and to provide for their identification and appointment where necessary by neutral states;
THE OBLIGATION on neutral states to co-operate to the fullest extent possible with conflicting parties to assume the responsibilities of conflicting parties in respect of trans-boundary wildlife areas in which those neutral states have existing responsibilities.
THE OBLIGATION on the Security Council, regional peace keepers and member states to include conservationists and environmental experts in delegations tasked with negotiating, concluding, monitoring and policing ceasefires and the peaceful settlement of armed conflict.
A MANDATE for the Security Council to intervene in armed conflict and to deploy force where necessary to prevent environmental emergencies where a failure to do so would result in the extinction of a species or irreversible destruction of a protected natural habitat.
THE RECOGNITION of the following acts during armed conflict as war crimes:
(i) the deliberate or systematic slaughter of endangered species;
(ii) the deliberate or systematic destruction of protected natural habitats;
(iii) the deliberate attack on facilities for the preservation, research, breeding, treatment or study of wild animals where wild animals are kept either temporarily or permanently and wildlife and marine reserves unless such facility or reserve has consistently and despite warning been used for military operations; or directing attacks at personnel who work at such facilities or at such reserves; and
(iv) the use of the threat of slaughter of endangered species as a negotiating tool during armed conflict.
We believe that there will remain no universal acceptance of the value of biodiversity until the largest and most obvious examples of a diverse animal planet are abandoned when people go to war.
We request the United Nations to seize the opportunity to adopt this call for a more humane treatment of the natural environment in times of armed conflict.
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