CliSAP successfully finished in 2018. Climate research continues in the Cluster of Excellence "CLICCS".

New Publication in Genocide Research: Increased Awareness of Climate Problems


Climate change and scarce resources, “climate refugees,” conflicts and security problems – the links between these topics are frequently discussed. But up to now, climate change has not been considered as a possible cause of genocide as defined under UN international law. In an effort to raise academic awareness and promote discussion of the topic Prof. Jürgen Zimmerer, a historian at Universität Hamburg and Principal Investigator at CliSAP, has now edited a special issue of the “International Journal of Human Rights.”

Jürgen Zimmerer investigates the connection between changes of climate and violent conflicts. Photo: private.

National, ethnic and religious differences are common causes of violence, persecution and even genocide. However, there has been little research on the effects of climate changes such as   drought, flooding or loss of territory – thereby ignoring a major potential cause of violence. “Particularly with regard to prevention, in the 21st century we can’t afford to neglect climate problems,” claims Prof. Jürgen Zimmerer in the foreword of the current issue of the “International Journal of Human Rights.”

For the latest special issue, Zimmerer called upon anthropologists, economists, geographers, historians and political scientists to present their observations and research approaches on the subject. It is planned to continue the discussion at the Fourth Global Conference on Genocide at the University of Cape Town. “We have to rethink the topic of genocide from scratch and expand the list of possible causes in order to find viable solutions,” urges Zimmerer. “If, for example, we assume that dwindling resources lead to increased violence, then fairer distribution will help to reduce violence – think: global social justice.”

Link to the special issue

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Zimmerer holds the chair for the History of Africa at Universität Hamburg´s Historical Seminar. Further, he is a Principal Investigator at the Cluster of Excellence CliSAP and, since June, also a member of Universität Hamburg´s Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN).