On 24 January the European Union Delegation to the United Nations in New York and the Global Centre co-hosted an event entitled, “Climate Change and Mass Atrocities.” Climate change has been recognized as one of the defining issues of our time due to the existential threat it poses to the environment and the inhabitants of our planet, as well as its ability to exacerbate tensions between communities and multiply the threat of conflict and mass atrocity crimes. The crises and challenges arising from climate change all pose a threat to vulnerable societies, creating an environment conducive to the commission of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Rising temperatures, droughts, destructive floods and desertification have already increased resource-based conflict and atrocities in the Central Sahel, Lake Chad Basin and elsewhere.
As the international community examines how to slow environmental degradation and confront climate threats, it must also consider how to prevent and respond to atrocities driven by climate emergencies. During this event, experts on the intersection between climate, human rights, security and resilience provided an overview of climate-related atrocity risks, as well as national and multilateral initiatives that can be used to mitigate and address the growing threat of climate-related conflict. The event also examined strategies to ensure international efforts more holistically protect populations from atrocity crimes and climate vulnerabilities.
Simone Schuller, First Secretary, Human Rights Section, European Union Delegation to the UN
Tom Ellison, Deputy Director, Center for Climate and Security
Niku Jafarnia, Bahrain and Yemen Researcher, MENA division, Human Rights Watch
Laura Strawmyer, Senior Policy Advisor – Conflict, Peacebuilding and Good Governance, Mercy Corps
Savita Pawnday, Executive Director, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect