Viet Nam co-organises UN discussion on environmental protection in armed conflicts

Dealing with environmental impact and restoring the environment after conflicts would contribute to reconstruction, helping civilians soon stabilise their lives, and to build sustainable peace, Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, Permanent Representative of Viet Nam to the United Nations, said on May 26.

Speaking at an online discussion themed “Protecting the environment is protecting civilians,” Quy said in April when Viet Nam served as President of the UN Security Council (UNSC), the council has agreed to approve Resolution No. 2573 on “Protection of Objects Indispensable to the Survival of the Civilian Population”, which has affirmed its strong commitment to protecting civilians and promoting the observance of the international humanitarian law.

Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, permanent representative of Vietnam to the UN

Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, permanent representative of Viet Nam to the UN.

He said agent orange (AO)/dioxin has caused serious consequences in Viet Nam, adding that up to 3 million Viet Namese are now AO victims, and hundreds of thousands of hectares of land are contaminated with the chemical toxin.

It takes much time and great resources to handle AO consequences, the ambassador stressed.

Quy used the occasion to thank UN member countries and organisations, and the international community for their support to Viet Nam in dioxin remediation and to AO victims.

Christopher Harland, Legal Advisor at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), cited the international humanitarian law as saying that protecting the environment is protecting civilians.

Wim Zwijnenburg, an expert from the Dutch peace organisation PAX, said the impacts of environmental degradation, hunger caused by conflicts, and the climate crisis have seriously affected civilians.

Dominick de Waal, a World Bank expert, suggested coordinating actions between development and humanitarian agencies in increasing resilience of civilians.

The discussion, co-organised by the Vietnamese permanent mission to the UN and their counterparts from Niger, Costa Rica, Belgium and Switzerland, the UN Environment Programme and PAX, took place within the framework of the Protection of Civilians (PoC) Week 2021.

This was the second time Viet Nam had co-organised a side event on such topic.