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Military conflicts and the environment (decisions 16/11 A and B)

28. At the 8th meeting of the session, on 31 May, the Council had before it two draft decisions on this subject submitted by the Bureau (UNEP/GC.16/L.53) prepared on the basis of two earlier drafts submitted, respectively, by Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia and Yemen (UNEP/GC.16/L.27/Rev.1) and by Austria, Finland, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland (UNEP/GC.16/L.29).

29. The representative of the Netherlands pointed that the word "organizations" should have been included after the word "intergovernmental" in the third line of subparagraph (a) of the operative part of draft decision A.

30. The draft decision, as orally corrected by the representative of the Netherlands, was adopted by consensus.

31. The representative of the United States, speaking in explanation of position after the adoption of the decisions, said that his delegation was pleased to join the consensus, particularly with regard to decision 16/11 A, but had certain reservations about decision 16/11 B, in that it saw no reason for the Council to take a position on arms control agreement, a matter better left to arms control experts.

32. Following the adoption of the decision, the representative of Kuwait expressed his gratitude to the Governing Council and to the Executive Director for their initiative in monitoring the effects of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the consequent destruction of the environment in Kuwait and the other Gulf States. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait had had a serious and devastating effect on the environment in Kuwait and the Gulf in general. Seven hundred oil wells had been burning since January, representing an environmental and health hazard to humans, particularly children, who represented the future of Kuwait, and old people, and to all other living creatures. The danger of such effects inside and outside Kuwait could not yet be estimated. It was no secret that the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait had had and still had devastating implications on the marine environment in the Arab Gulf. Iraq had destroyed marine life by deliberately spilling large quantities of oil amounting to several million barrels into the sea, while the Iraqi mines in the Gulf had contaminated drinking water in the region. Finally, stressing the enormity and the appalling nature of the environmental effects of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, he expressed the hope that UNEP and the other United Nations agencies would take more urgent action to put an end to or contain them and expressed his appreciation to the members of the Council and to all the States that have agreed to give prominence to such a vital and crucial decision in the interest of the world and humanity at large.