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Environmental Crime Legal Framework In Iraq

Iraq’s Constitution enshrines its citizens’ rights to a healthy environment. For example, Article 33 reads:“Every individual has the right to live in safe environmental conditions and the State shall undertake the protection and preservation of the environment and its biological diversity.” This is coupled with Article 114, which states that federal and regional authorities shall “formulate environmental policy to ensure the protection of the environment from pollution and to preserve its cleanliness, in cooperation with the regions that are not organized in a region”.

In 2008: the Ministry of Environment was established, focusing on the implementation of state policy in the field of protecting and improving the environment and to meet the challenges and complex problems facing the Iraqi environment.

The key institutions promoting the environmental conditions in the country include:

  • Ministry of Environment
  • Health and Environment Committee in the Parliament
  • Environment Protection and Improvement Council
  • Environment Protection and Improvement Authority

  • Featured Legislation

    1980: Law 99 (Prevention of Ionizing Radiation) was signed into force, prescribing that the acquisition, use, manufacture, storage, loan, transportation, sale, purchase, import, export or possession of ionizing radiation sources are prohibited in the absence of a licence.

    1997: Law No. 3 (on the protection and improvement of the environment) was passed, overseeing the protection of water from pollution. The legislation regulates the discharge of effluents whether they are of domestic, industrial or agricultural origin. This law also covers the following subjects

    • Regulation of air pollution and noise reduction
    • Biodiversity protection
    • Management of hazardous waste
    • Protection of the environment from pollution resulting from exploration and extraction of oil wealth and natural gas

    2001: Regulation 2 (Preservation of Water Resources) was introduced to prioritize the management and protection of Iraq’s water resources.

    2008: The  Environmental Protection and Improvement in Iraqi Kurdistan Region Law was adopted. This Law, consisting of 48 articles divided in V Sections, aims at protecting and preserving the environment, particularly considering the problems of urban expansion and population increase and lack of awareness among the population. The main objectives of the law are:

    • Maintaining the environment of the region, protecting, improving and preventing it from pollution
    • Protecting the environment and public health from dangerous activities and harmful works
    • Maintaining and developing the natural resources of the country

    2008: Law 37 was instituted, overseeing the creation of the Ministry of Environment (MoE).

    2009: The Iraqi Law of Protection and Improvement of the Environment (No. 27) amended the 1997 law, aiming to improve and to protect the environment by handling the damages, protecting the public health and the natural resources. The Law establishes a Council for the protection and improvement of the environment referring to the Ministry of Environment and cooperating with other Ministries. It also defines its duties and responsibilities. Smaller Councils were also established in the different provinces of the country. The Law sets forth provisions for the protection of the environment, assigning responsibility for environmental pollution to regional authorities and promoting clean technologies and a suitable environmental policy. The use of sensors for pollution monitoring and control was also recommended as well as the renewable energy technologies.

    2009: Law 27 was established, overseeing the creation of the Environmental Protection and Improvement Agency (EPI).

    2013: The National Environmental Strategy and Action Plan was unveiled . It is a sectoral national strategy document of Iraq. It applies for the period of 2013-2017. Its main objective is to improve the quality of life and livelihood of the population through the protection of natural resources and support to sustainable practices; assessment of issues relevant to the environment situation and suggestion of environmentally-sound solutions; reduction of the potential impact causing environment deterioration, building an institutional and educational awareness to preserve the environment; a clear roadmap to implement the principles of proper environmental management; development of short- and long-term strategic solutions for global environmental variables.

    2014: Instruction No. 2 (on Environmental Protection from Municipal Waste) was enacted. The Law sets forth provisions for the protection of the environment, ensuring the  use of clean technologies via environmental policy. According to this law, an environmental impact assessment shall be done for any new project held in the country in an effort to regulate the discharge of effluents whether they are of domestic, industrial or agricultural origin.

    2018: The Iraq Action Plan of Antimicrobial Resistance was tabled. This Action Plan of Antimicrobial Resistance is a 5-year nationwide multi-sectoral document, that follows the ‘One-Health’ approach, aiming to (i) prevent, slow down, and contain the spread of AMR through the continuous availability of safe effective, and quality-assured antimicrobials; (ii) set out a comprehensive roadmap to deal with AMR; and (iii) minimize its impact on individual’s wellbeing, now and in the future. The NAP is the Iraqi answer to the high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly on antimicrobial resistance held in September 2016 which called for national, regional, and international political commitment to address the issue. To achieve the overall goal the document sets out the following 5 Strategic Objectives, each of them accompanied by a series of specific interventions (i) improve awareness and understanding of Antimicrobial Resistance through effective communication, education, and training; (ii) strengthen the knowledge and evidence base through surveillance and research; (iii) reduce the incidence of infection through effective sanitation, hygiene and infection prevention measures; (iv) optimize the use of antimicrobial medicines in human and animal health and control their residues in water and food; and (v) develop the economic case for sustainable investment that takes account of the needs of all countries, and increase investment in new medicines, diagnostic tools, vaccines, and other interventions.

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

    • Iraq features many crimes against nature – some of which include makeshift oil refineries polluting the air and companies pumping waste straight into Iraq’s waterways. While authorities have struggled with recording said crime, Iraq is experimenting with open-source intelligence — that is, information available freely everywhere. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, for example, share satellite imagery and mapping by Google Earth, and Iraq is leveraging these new tools to find a solution to its most common environmental crimes. In a data-driven again, Iraq is using social media to assess what kind of long-term or acute environmental damage could arise from organization and corporate crime. Open-source data on select websites have been used for some time now – consider the use of open-source information to investigate events such as the shooting down of  Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine and  chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Today, these data can shed light on issues such as pollution in southern Iraq’s Shatt al-Arab waterway. The use of satellite data from organizations like Planet Labs and Google Earth provide insights into environmental crimes which will have major implications. The open-source data will then be triangulated with eyewitness accounts, enabling NGOs and citizens to reach out to local prosecutors or law enforcement agencies interested in working on environmental crimes and state corruption.

    References and Further Reading


    Ministry of Health & Ministry of Environment: