International Treaties

Sustainable Development

Environmental Law

Case Studies


Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Eritrea

    The Constitution of Eritrea provides the basis for Sustainable Development in the country (Article 8 and 21). Article 8 (3) in particular, stipulates that: “In the interest of present and future generations, the State shall be responsible for managing all land, water, air and natural resources and for ensuring their management in a bal- anced and sustainable manner; and for cre- ating the right conditions to secure the participation of the people in safeguarding the environment.”

    Eritrea has developed five documents that reflect the country’s national strategies for Sustainable Development:

  • Macro Policy
  • National Environmental Management Plan for Eritrea
  • National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan
  • Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy
  • : National Action Programme to Combat Desertification

  • The Department of Environment (DoE) is responsible for coordinating environmental actions in Eritrea.

Featured Legislation

1994: The Macro-Policy Document was created, outlining the background for Eritrea’s national economic growth strategy. The Document also pursues the guiding principles of human-centered, efficient, sustainable and equitable development by addressing the following:

  • Potential environmental consequences of investment decisions by undertaking appropriate environmental impact assessments before investment decisions are made
  • Land use planning to reduce land degradation and biotic loss
  • The proper disposal of environmental hazards
  • Regulation of industrial and urban waste disposal systems
  • Reduction of the widespread urban and rural poverty and the enhancement of social justice
  • Enhancement of the status and increasing the participation of women
  • Acceleration of human capital formation
  • Restoration, enhancement and preservation of Eritrea’s ecological integrity

1994:  The Eritrea Investment Proclamation was unveiled. This Proclamation establishes the following objectives: to encourage investments so as to develop and utilize the natural resources of the country; to expand export and encourage competitive import-substituting businesses; to create and expand employment opportunities; to encourage the introduction of new technology in order to enhance production efficiency and thereby optimize resource exploitation; to encourage equitable regional growth and development; and to encourage small and medium scale enterprises. Without in any way limiting other provisions of this Proclamation, all areas of investment shall be open to investors. Domestic retail and wholesale trade, import and commission agency shall be allowed to foreign investors when Eritrea has bilateral agreement of reciprocity with the country of the investor. However, this precondition may be waived by the Government. The size, location, purpose, terms and conditions of allocation of land/or water shall be determined by the relevant Eritrean laws and regulations.

1995: The National Environmental Management Plan for Eritrea was introduced, laying out a strategy for action for conservation activities. Its guiding principles include recognition of the strategic importance of conserving natural resources and maintaining environmental quality as a part of national economic growth and development process.

1999: The Ministry of Land, Water and Environment, in collaboration with other relevant government agencies, developed a system of National Environmental Impact Assessment Procedures and Guidelines.

2000: The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan was developed. In this document a set of action plans were listed

  • Gazette protected areas for wildlife and habitat conservation
  • The promotion of afforestation through community participation
  • Greater public awareness in biodiversity conservation
  • Linkages among different stakeholders

2002: The National Action Programme to Combat Desertification and Mitigate the Effect of Drought (NAP) was approved in order to:

  • Raise public awareness
  • Highlight the importance of gender in the fight against Desertification
  • Establish NGOs and networks for Combating Desertification and Mitigating the Effects of Drought
  • Formulate the Regional Action Programmes (RAP)

2005: ​​The National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA) was drafted to develop a countrywide programme that encompasses urgent and immediate adaptation activities:

  • Policy measures
  • Capacity building
  • Technology transfer

2008: The Integrated Water Resource Management Action Plan was implemented. This Integrated Water Resource Management Action Plan, prepared and issued by the Ministry of Land, Water and Environment, shall be instrumental for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in the framework of the national development policy and strategy, which has recognized and addressed the importance of sustainable water resources management and increasing water use efficiency for livelihoods and sustainable development of the country aimed at promoting rapid economic growth and poverty reduction. The Plan was developed through a participatory approach, involving national and international institutions and NGOs.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • Food insecurity has been weaponized by the Government of Ethiopia and Eritrea, as millions of people have been pushed to the brink of starvation. Despite the UN’s effort to combat armed conflict and conflict-induced food insecurity via Resolution 2417, climate change and drought exacerbate food insecurity. The unpublished results of rapid nutrition assessments reveal that Global Acute Malnutrition rates among children under five years of age are climbing. These numbers may be even higher but due to government restrictions, survey teams will never know the true extent of famine in Eritrea. Drought has caused food stocks to run out, as most farmers are unable to plough their fields and plant and tend crops. Eritrean soldiers have seized this opportunity, arriving in villages and destroying the seedlings. Local communities have been threatened with violence, sexual violence and starvation. The UN is drawing links between rape and starvation crime: many survivors of rape in Eritrea are unable to care for themselves and their children because of physical injuries, trauma, and life-long stigma. A woman who is gang raped, for example, may fear returning to her home or frequenting local markets, gardens, farms and wells to gather resources to maintain food security. Women, inevitably, have become sole adult carers for their children: if they fear rape and other forms of sexual violence, they cannot engage in daily tasks to feed their families, perpetuating a cycle of violence and starvation.

References and Further Reading


Ministry of Land, Water and Environment: