Webinar on ‘International Humanitarian Law and Protection of the Natural Environment’

The BIDTI in collaboration with the ICRC delegation in Sri Lanka conducted a webinar on ‘International Humanitarian Law and Protection of the Natural Environment: A preventative Response’ on 31st August 2021. It was the fourth webinar of the series conducted on the contemporary challenges to International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

The objective of the Webinar series is to raise awareness and promote discussion on contemporary issues related to International Humanitarian Law (IHL), as well as the importance of the role played by States in the domestic setting and multilateral fora.

A topic that ‘doesn’t get noticed until the damage is done,’ Head of the ICRC Delegation in Sri Lanka Loukas Petridis noted that environmental damage as a result of warfare, has a serious effect on populations which can last for generations. This is often exacerbated due to the effects of climate change hence a timely issue which was the focus of discussion.

The panelists hailed from various background ranging from academic, legal and military fields included Additional Solicitor General of the Attorney General’s Department Harippriya Jayasundara P.C., Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Colombo
Dr. Nishara Mendis, from the Sri Lanka Army, Lt. Col Nalin Herath and ICRC Regional Legal Advisor for South Asia Yari Yar Mohammad based in Kabul.

The panel of experts discussed on how IHL seeks to protect the natural environment during armed conflicts and the role of the state and relevant stake holders. The first segment of the discussion focused on the existing international law and domestic legal framework, followed by deliberating on what more could be done to make the domestic legal framework better in terms of protection of natural environment during an armed conflict.

The webinar was moderated and facilitated by Legal Advisors to ICRC Delegation in
Sri Lanka Samindika Elkaduwe and Thivanka Ratnayake.