Journal Article

Genocidal risk and climate change: Africa in the twenty-first century

The International Journal of Human Rights

Climate change is often related to various adverse effects, among those are endangering

food security and raising the risk of conflict. Some scholars go as far as identifying

climate change as the main driver of civilisational crisis. But empirical evidence is

rather inconclusive so far, particularly about its relationship to violence, and even

more so, genocide. In this article, we provide a literature review of studies explaining

certain forms of violence and especially the connections between climate change and

violence as well as an empirical study about the connections of climate variables

(temperature and rainfall) and agricultural production in sub-Sahara Africa. Further,

we also provide an assessment of institutional risk factors given the historical record

of sub-Saharan African states with respect to genocide and projections about the

future development of agricultural production for the first half of the twenty-first

century to also assess environmental risk. In doing so, we are able to identify

countries of joint risk and promising directions of further research. In this context, we

chose sub-Saharan Africa as our focus area for various reasons: first, because of

widespread poverty, institutional weakness and dependence on rain-fed agriculture,

sub-Saharan Africa is the macro region where the effects of climate change will

very likely play out most adversely; further, it also assembles a pronounced

historical record of violent conflict, notably including genocidal episodes;

finally, mutual enforcement and endogeneity issues are particularly viable there, not

the least in the form of a large potential impact of technological and institutional



Andreas Exenberger
Andreas Pondorfer


Publication Date