December 8, 2016 | Mass Violence and Atrocities

Environmental Risk Factors for Atrocities: Next Steps in Building the Research and Policy Agenda

Invitation Only

This policy salon dinner will center discussion on a new brief, “Putting Environmental Stress (Back) on the Mass Atrocities Agenda,” with author, Dr. Cullen Hendrix, associate professor at the Sié Center for International Security and Diplomacy at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver.

When and why do environmental stressors play a role in precipitating mass atrocities? How can the international community respond to signs of increased environmental stress on fragile political structures while the world is faced with global climate change? While there are emerging discussions around how environmental changes can contribute to conflict—including during the 2016 World Bank’s Law, Justice and Development Week—policy that links environmental stressors and mass atrocities is nascent. Policymakers need to better understand how environmental stresses—either real, in the form of land, water, and food scarcity, or imagined and promulgated by political entrepreneurs seeking to capitalize on fears of scarcity—might catalyze human rights abuses and mass violence.

In brief, Dr. Cullen Hendrix explores how environmental stress might increase the likelihood of atrocities, making policy recommendations for the international community to mitigate this risk. He suggests that environmental factors should be included and addressed in efforts to develop inclusive social narratives, maintain an open space for civil society, and promote equitable land use practices. What are the implications of these recommendations for international security policy, particularly around global displacement?


Jai-Ayla Sutherland

Program Specialist
Mass Violence and Atrocities