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 improvements.


Andreas Exenberger
Andreas Pondorfer


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