Home Institution

Washington University in St. Louis

Publication Date

Fall 2022

Program Name

Switzerland: International Studies and Multilateral Diplomacy


The effects of climate change are becoming more pronounced, and they will have an increasingly destabilizing effect on societies around the globe. This research paper utilizes primary source material (e.g. interviews with field experts) and secondary source material to analyze the relationship between climate change and armed conflict, and the response of international humanitarian law. The consequences of climate change, like changing weather patterns, will increase global migration and strain the resources of host communities. This phenomenon, in addition to other climate-induced factors, may increase the likelihood of armed conflict breaking out. The case studies of the Darfur conflict in Sudan and the Syrian Civil war demonstrate this chain of events. However, the triggers of armed conflict are nuanced, and a comprehensive analysis of conflict drivers is necessary. Systemic issues like poverty can heighten a society’s vulnerability to climate change and conflict, and armed conflict also contributes to environmental harm and degradation. International Humanitarian Law has responded by creating initiatives, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross’ updated 2020 Guidelines on the Protection of the Natural Environment in Armed Conflict and the United Nation’s International Law Commission Draft Principles on Protection of the Environment in Relation to Armed Conflicts.


Climate | Human Rights Law | Migration Studies | Peace and Conflict Studies

Article Location