Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time, and there is a growing body of scientific research suggesting that it will cause an increase in armed conflicts in the future. However, this is by no means a foregone conclusion. In fact, the relationship between armed conflict and climate change is extremely complex and highly nuanced. This chapter traces the history of the connection between armed conflict and climatic conditions, before examining some of the ways in which climate change is expected to cause conflict in the future. It then examines the role that relevant fields of international law may play before concluding with a discussion of future developments likely to affect this issue going forward.
- Climate change
- Armed conflict
- Resource scarcity
- International law
- Humanitarian law
- International criminal law
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World Bank 2014.
Saul 2009, p. 6.
The link between climate change and conflict is complex, and it has been argued that climate change will mostly likely indirectly cause conflict. See arguments in Das 2015.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2014.
Cullen et al. 2000.
Haug et al. 2003.
Kelley et al. 2015.
United Nations Environment Programme 2007, p. 8.
Schleussner et al. 2016.
Hsiang et al. 2013.
De Châtel 2014, p. 522.
Das 2016, p. 412.
See generally Evans 2011.
Von Uexkull et al. 2016.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2014, pp. 51, 53
Indeed, the literature on resource scarcity and armed conflict appears to be inconclusive on the point. See Mildner et al. 2011.
Hall and Hall 1998.
Fetzek and Mazo 2014.
Schleussner et al. 2016.
Das 2016, p. 414.
UN General Assembly, Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 28 July 1951, United Nations Treaty Series, Vol. 189, p. 137, Article 1.
Saul 2009, p. 11.
Brzoska and Fröhlich 2016.
Burrows and Kinney 2016.
Raleigh et al. 2008.
Hendrixson and Hartmann 2018.
The Royal Society 2009.
See Chap. 20 on Environment and Natural Resources by Smith.
Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques, 10 December 1976, United Nations Treaty Series, Vol. 1108, p. 151.
Although the 2016 Kigali Amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol 1522 United Nations Treaty Series 3; 26 ILM 1550 (1987) has also been viewed as contributing to the solution to climate change.
Article 2, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 20 January 1994, A/RES/48/189.
Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UN Doc FCCC/CP/1997/7/Add.1, Dec. 10, 1997; 37 ILM 22 (1998).
Das 2016, p. 412.
Das 2016, p. 413.
The Cancun Agreements: Outcome of the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention, Decision 1/CP.16, para 13. Discussed also by Das 2016, p. 423. This balance has been subsequently reflected in the treatment of adaptation and mitigation in the Paris Agreement.
The Cancun Agreements: Outcome of the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention, Decision 1/CP.16, para 15.
Das 2016, p. 424.
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (last amended 2010), 17 July 1998, A/CONF.183/9.
See Chap. 22 on Transnational and International Criminal Law by Sayapin.
Article II, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 9 December 1948, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 78, p. 277; Article 6, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (last amended 2010), 17 July 1998, A/CONF.183/9.
Article II(c), Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 9 December 1948, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 78, p. 277; Article 6(c), Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (last amended 2010), 17 July 1998, A/CONF.183/9.
See arguments in Schwabach 2004, pp. 7–8.
For further information see Ambos 2009.
Article 7, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (last amended 2010), 17 July 1998, A/CONF.183/9.
Article 7(1)(a), Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (last amended 2010), 17 July 1998, A/CONF.183/9.
Article 7(1)(b), Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (last amended 2010), 17 July 1998, A/CONF.183/9.
Article 7(1)(d), Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (last amended 2010), 17 July 1998, A/CONF.183/9.
Article 7(1)(f), Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (last amended 2010), 17 July 1998, A/CONF.183/9.
Article 7(1)(h), Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (last amended 2010), 17 July 1998, A/CONF.183/9.
Article 7(1)(k), Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (last amended 2010), 17 July 1998, A/CONF.183/9.
Most analyses of environmental crimes against humanity examine environmental situations more broadly, rather than climate change in particular. See Smith 2013 as an example.
There is a difference between the concept of “attack” in crimes against humanity and “attack” in the laws of armed conflict. As a crime against humanity, an attack can be a course of mistreatment against civilian population. See Prosecutor v Dragoljub Kunarac, Radomir Kovac, and Zoran Vukovic, Appeal Judgment, 12 June 2002, para 86; Prosecutor v Fatimir Limaj, Haradin Bala, Isak Musliu, Trial Judgment, 30 November 2005, para 194.
See Prosecutor v Dragoljub Kunarac, Radomir Kovac, and Zoran Vukovic, Appeal Judgment, 12 June 2002, para 86; Prosecutor v Fatimir Limaj, Haradin Bala, Isak Musliu, Trial Judgment, 30 November 2005, para 194.
Article 8(2)(b)(iv), Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (last amended 2010), 17 July 1998, A/CONF.183/9.
See Article 8 bis, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (last amended 2010), 17 July 1998, A/CONF.183/9.
Although literature linking the crime of aggression to climate change is not yet that extensive useful analysis can be gleaned from the literature examining the notion of armed attacks in relation to the emerging threat of cyber warfare. See arguments in, for example, Ophardt 2010.
International Law Commission, ‘Protection of the Environment in Relation to Armed Conflict’, http://legal.un.org/ilc/guide/8_7.shtml, accessed 30 August 2018.
International Law Commission 2014.
International Law Commission 2015.
International Law Commission 2016.
International Law Commission 2018.
Guidance is being developed which relates to the prevention of environment-based conflicts. See for example United Nations Interagency Framework Team for Preventive Action 2012.
Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court 2016, paras 7, 40, 41.
Buhaug et al. 2014, p. 396: ‘research to date has failed to converge on a specific and direct association between climate and violent conflict.’
Gleditsch 2012, p. 3.
Gleditsch 2012, p. 7.
Smith and Vivekananda 2012, p. 78.
Das 2016, p. 415.
Motzfeldt Kravik 2018.
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Smith, T. (2022). Climate Change and Armed Conflict. In: Sayapin, S., Atadjanov, R., Kadam, U., Kemp, G., Zambrana-Tévar, N., Quénivet, N. (eds) International Conflict and Security Law. T.M.C. Asser Press, The Hague. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-6265-515-7_39
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