Protecting Environment and Building Peace through Cessation of War

For the past 30 years, international efforts have continued to recognize the importance of the environment and improve it. On 4 September 2021, the Western Seoul & Gyeonggi Branch of HWPL held the 2nd Peace Talk online on the theme, “Protecting Environment and Building Peace through Cessation of War,” joined by five countries including Zambia.

Peace Talk is an online platform for experts in different fields to come together and share their thoughts and activities related to a given theme. Its first session was held in May 2021.

Speakers from the Netherlands, South Korea, Latvia, Zambia, Equatorial Guinea, and Tunisia discussed what the environment and peace mean for us and how war affects the environment. They also sought ways for improvement.

“The displacement of large numbers of people due to armed conflict can also create immediate pressure on the environment. A legal framework that imposes an obligation on individuals and groups to protect the integrity of the environment is much needed,” said John Bwalya, Acting Director of Dag Hammarskjöld Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies.

Ieva Miļūna, Lecturer of International Humanitarian Law at Riga Graduate School of Law, emphasized that “during a war, natural resources are often taken forcibly and imprudently which is a clear act of infringement of sovereignty, additionally to its destructive impact on the environment. First, we need to use all the possible international legal instruments to clear the remnants of war. Second, all the international organizations need to work together. Lastly, the enforcement and education of respective international legal instruments should be implemented as well.”

Beatrice Phiri Tonguino, Co-founder of You-Retain Foundation, stated a message for achieving peace together. “We all have one goal to be alive, be loved, be in peace,” she said. “Let’s respect and unite together despite our ethnicity and religion to protect the environment and support life for every person. The environment needs us and we need it. And we all need each other to ensure that we create a place that supports life for every person.”

Ashely Song, Manager of the Western Seoul & Gyeonggi Branch of HWPL, mentioned that global peace is possible through the DPCW. “Within the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW), articles 2 and 3, the maintenance of friendly relations and the prohibition of acts of aggression, are laws designed to prevent conflict and refrain from using weapons. And, consequently, to pass on peace as a legacy to future generations. Thus, as war and weapons are a definite threat to our ecology, HWPL has been working to legislate DPCW as an international law to bring positive peace,” she said.

Oussama Jeljeli, Founder of University Organisation of Human Development from Tunisia, encouraged others to join the cause, saying, “World Peace is our target for all of us. I will never forget the speech of the chairman Mr. Man Hee Lee, the president of HWPL, when he asked us what we did to achieve world peace. We know it's not easy but it's not impossible. It's our dream so we should focus on it every day. We should discuss it every time to share the culture of peace and believe this dream to come true. We know the youth has the power to make a change and are the future of this planet. So let's make peace together and don't forget we are one!”

War is the biggest terror to the environment and the most vicious violence to all forms of life. For this reason, peace activities aimed at preventing wars can be linked to the environmental movement as well. Being a global peace NGO, HWPL wants to take notice of this point. In order to create a clean and peaceful environment where both the current and future generations can live, countries around the world need to cooperate together.