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JULY 2, 2002
4:24 PM
CONTACT:  Vietnam Environmental Conference
Al Burke, Co-ordinator Tel. +46/8 731 9200
International Conference on Long-term Consequences of Modern Warfare
Vietnam Environmental Conference To be held in Stockholm, July 26-28
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - July 2 - The long-term consequences of modern warfare provide the focus of an international conference to be held near Stockholm during 26-28 July 2002. The Vietnam Environmental Conference will bring together scientists and other experts from all over the world to discuss the continuing impact of the Vietnam War.

Though formally concluded over a quarter-century ago, the war left a persistent legacy of contamination and destruction that has yet to be thoroughly examined. The purpose of the conference is to asses the long-term environmental consequences in terms of their interrelated effects on ecosystems, public health and economic activity.

It is hoped that the knowledge resulting from the conference will not only be helpful in repairing the wounds of war in the affected countries-- Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia-- but will also be useful in analysing the long-term consequences of other wars, past, present and future. It may, for example, yield clues about what to expect in Afghanistan 25 years from now.

Preparations for the conference are being supervised by an international steering committee that includes several distinguished scientists who have conducted research in Vietnam. Among them is L. Wayne Dwernychuk of Hatfield Consultants in British Columbia, Canada, who points out that, "Although it has been over 25 years since the formal conclusion of the Vietnam War, its lingering environmental effects are still being felt today. To cite but one example, there has been virtually no recovery in the upland forests that were defoliated by Agent Orange between 1965-1971. Reduced biodiversity of wildlife and forests, soil erosion, unproductive land, and other effects of the war continue an unbroken cycle of poverty and hardship.”

The dioxin in Agent Orange, which is the subject of an ongoing scientific and political debate, is one of several toxic substances whose effects will be reviewed at the conference. Other key issues include the death and disability caused by munitions remaining from the war, the spread of diseases such as malaria and lymphoma, and the social-psychological consequences for families and communities.

The impact of such factors on the societies of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia has been very great. For example, total deaths and casualties caused by land mines and other unexploded ordnance since the end of the war far exceed, on a proportional basis, those sustained by U. S troops during the war. Given that tens of millions of land mines and bomblets remain in the landscape of Indochina, the toll of death and suffering is certain to rise in the decades ahead.

These and other long-term consequences will be reviewed in separate reports on ecosystems, public health and economic impacts. The ethical, legal and policy implications of the Vietnam War will also be addressed. Drafts of the reports will be published in advance on the conference web site, then revised on the basis of comments and suggestions received.

The event will take place during 26-28 July at the Bosön Conference Centre, located ten kilometres from the Stockholm city centre. Information on the experts involved, the issues to be addressed and other details are available on the conference web site:


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