Webinar Iraq's Enduring Challenges:  Environmental Damage and Public Health in a Post-Conflict Landscape

The discussion will be held in both Arabic and English, with interpretation available on Zoom only.

You can register to attend by following this link. You will receive a Zoom confirmation email should your registration be successful. Alternatively, you can watch the event live here on our Facebook page.

How have the environmental impacts of the different conflicts that have affected Iraq in the 20th and 21st century impacted the public health of the Iraqi people. It is now widely reported that the weapons used by the American army and the Baathist regime, such as the depleted Uranium in Fallujah and the chemical weapons in Halabja, have had such a polluting impact on the Iraqi environment that high rates of birth defects and cancers continue to plague those areas, almost 20 and 40 years after their initial use. In addition, the deliberate destruction and burning of oil fields, such as the Qayyarah oil field during the conflict against ISIS has also played its part in poisoning the Iraqi air, land and water. The Iraqi state and its institutions have in large part failed to protect the country’s natural environment and its constituent, and to mitigate the destructive effects of the conflict induced pollution. Chronic and systematic state failure, a lingering effect of the decades of conflict Iraq has endured, has led to a breakdown in environmental standards, poisoning the land, air and water. A notable example includes the chronic air pollution caused by gas flaring, in part due to the conflicts preventing the development of safer gas extraction infrastructure. Another example is the fatal levels of pollutants found in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and other essential water sources, which the state is unable to find the resources to clean.

Despite the overwhelming evidence pointing to the fatal legacy of conflicts on the Iraqi environment and the public heath of the Iraqi people, there has been a lack of peace building and policy initiatives that have sought to analyses and understand the intersection between those different factors, and to understand how a process of transitional justice could account for the public health disaster conflict has brought onto Iraq. Similarly, there has been little room for discussions on the possibility for litigation specifically.

The Arab Reform Initiative and the Robert Bosch Stiftung invite you to join us for this webinar discussion with a selection of Iraqi experts that will focus on the following questions:

  • What is the nexus of environment, conflict and public health in present day Iraq?
  • How has the use of certain weapons, such as depleted uranium shells, affected public health on the long term in Iraq? How have certain war tactics, such as deliberately burning oil wells, affected and polluted the environment, and by extension the public health of neighbouring residents?
  • How has state failure in Iraq, in large part caused by foreign intervention and by civil conflict, affected water and air quality and by extension the public health of the Iraqi people?
  • What are the prospects for mitigating the impacts of conflict on the environment and public health in Iraq in the coming years? Are the political institutions in Iraq equipped to handle this?
  • How can peace building initiative and transitional justice programs take into account the need to integrate the public health impact of conflict in Iraq? How can major polluters and militias be held accountable for this pollution and for the damage they have caused? Can a direct and clear link be drawn between the use of certain weapons and of certain military strategies, and the prevalence of certain diseases? Do legal avenues capable of addressing this nexus of conflict, public health and environment exist in Iraq? What options exist for Iraqis?