The Military Sector Vis-à-vis the Environment

Journal article

Westing, Arthur H. (1988) The Military Sector Vis-à-vis the Environment, Journal of Peace Research 25 (3): 257–264.

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A conceptual overview is provided of the relationship between the military sector of society and the human environment (the latter both in its qualitative and natural-resource aspects). The military sector is seen to account for approximately its proportionate share of environmental impact during times of peace, but during times of war its activities are recognized to be able to lead to essentially any level of environmental destruction. Environmental factors are concluded to contribute to the frequency of armed conflict, especially insofar as the natural resources of the earth, both living and non-living, are in greater demand than their overall or local availability. Means of non-violent conflict resolution are outlined separately for territorial, shared, and extra-territorial resources, and approaches to mitigating the problem - legal, political, and social - are suggested. It is urged, inter alia, that all environment- impinging activities of the military sector be open to public scrutiny, that environmental exploitation be carried out only on a sustainable (and also equitable) basis, and that legal mechanisms be established for the non-violent resolution of environmental conflicts.

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