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
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
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: http://www.nnn.se/vietnam/environ.htm