ECOCIDE ALERT IN THE SOUTHERN CAUCASUS! White phosphorous munitions are dangerous chemical weapon

Dear followers, friends & partners,

As you are aware, on Sept. 27th a full – blown war erupted between Armenia & Azerbaijan over Artsakh region, located in Southern Caucasus and continues to date.

The ongoing large-scale war is among major threats for the biodiversity of the region, which is defined by the leading conservation organizations as one of the World's biodiversity hotspots. It is also well-known for its high rate of endemism and for being home to more than 6000 plant species, 153 species of mammals & 400 species of birds. Hundreds of plant and animal species found in Artsakh are listed both in the local Red Book and the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species having a protection status at a global level.

We, as a conservation organization operating in Armenia, were shocked to witness usage of white phosphorous munitions in the primary forests of Artsakh on Oct. 30th containing elements of chemical weapons, which is recognized internationally as War Crimes.

Such practice threatens existence of any living being nearby, destroying the habitats of endangered brown bears, bezoar goats, mouflons, lynx, vultures, eagles and finally the Caucasian leopard – critically endangered large feline at a high risk of extinction in the region, that utilizes Mrav ridge to migrate between Armenia, Artsakh, Iran and Azerbaijan.
Armenia & Artsakh are known for their primary forests, which are amongst the most biodiverse forests in the region. Not only these forests play a major role in preserving favorable environmental conditions for sustainable development, but local people are heavily dependent on these forests for their livelihoods. Traditional forest-related knowledge accumulated over thousands of years is deeply linked with the cultures of indigenous people living in Artsakh.

White phosphorous munitions are dangerous chemical weapon that not only burn crucial habitats and destroy ecosystems, but also accumulate in soil and rivers, contaminating underground waters for years, thus turning into a major threat of regional scale for all the people living in the region, including Azerbaijan.

The usage of phosphorus munitions contradicts to the provisions of all possible known environmental conventions starting from Bern Convention, Nagoya protocol to Helsinki & Rotterdam conventions, verified by the Governments of both Armenia & Azerbaijan. Although the 98% of the global population live under the protection of the Chemical Weapons Convention, this is apparently not applicable towards Armenia & ethnic Armenians living in Artsakh, which we strictly condemn.

Nature conservation efforts recognize no political borders as the main aim of conservation is to sustain life on Earth – the only Planet we live in.

Thus, we’re calling to all our followers, partners, friends and colleagues both locally and internationally to condemn the actions of military forces aimed at eradicating life and creating environmental disaster in the region and have already addressed the international community on this matter presenting credible reports.

We stand for Peace and call all our partners of global conservation community to join efforts and condemn the usage of phosphorous munitions causing an environmental disaster that will turn into regional ecocide if not stopped by actions of global environmental organizations
Wars end, but the right to life should be recognized and respected at a global level for all living beings & all species in the world.

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