Environmental Security at the 2006 International Studies Association Convention

ECSP Director Geoff Dabelko Presents Paper on Environmental Peacemaking, Chairs Panel on Resource Scarcity

Mar 31, 2006

More than 100 people attended three panels focusing on environmental security at the 47th International Studies Association convention, held March 22-25, 2006, in San Diego, California. Papers by leading authors—including Nils Petter Gleditsch, Indra de Soysa, Ken Conca, Erika Weinthal, and Richard Matthew—examined environmental issues such as water scarcity, climate change, environmental degradation, and their connections to conflict and peacebuilding. The field's strong showing at the annual international relations conference reflects the growing resurgence of interest in exploring the hidden roots of war—and alternative paths to peace.

At the panel "Environmental Peacemaking: A Stages-of-Conflict Perspective," chaired by Duke University professor Erika Weinthal, ECSP Director Geoff Dabelko outlined the types of environmental pathways to peace and confidence building. Weinthal discussed ways in which the environment can help not only to build peace after conflict, but to keep the peace. University of California-Irvine's Richard Matthew reported on the environmental and demographic roots of Nepal's current civil war, and asserted that addressing those problems might help solve the intractable conflict. University of Maryland's Ken Conca, whose new book Governing Water: Contentious Transnational Politics and Global Institution Building was awarded the coveted Alger and Sprout prizes at the convention, described his new research on the contributions of UNEP's Post-Conflict Assessment Unit to peacebuilding in war-torn countries. The thoughtful discussion following the presentation ranged from peace parks to Kyoto's Clean Development Mechanism.

Geoff Dabelko chaired the well-attended session on "Resource Scarcity and Armed Conflict," which was organized by Nils Petter Gleditsch of International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO). Representatives from PRIO, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), and the University of California-San Diego presented papers analyzing geographic, environmental, and population data for links between conflict and environmentally induced scarcities, including those predicted to result from climate change. These concise presentations were followed by a lively critique from University of Minnesota discussant Colin Kahl, author of the recently published book States, Scarcity, and Civil Strife in the Developing World.

In addition to these formal presentations, ECSP hosted an informal gathering of 20 ISA attendees conducting research on demography and security, with the hope of increasing the prominence of these topics at future ISA conventions and better integrating them into the field of political science. Richard Cincotta and Elizabeth Leahy of Population Action International, who presented a poster at ISA titled "A Metric Characterizing Population Age Structure and Its Relation to Armed Conflict," assisted with the planning of the event, which spurred discussion of ways to share knowledge and build on each others' work. If you are interested in joining a planned listserv dedicated to dialogue on demography and security, please contact ECSP at escp@wilsoncenter.org.

Other panels on environmental security included "Water Scarcity—Conflict and Cooperation," chaired by NTNU's Indra de Soysa, which featured new water, drought, and internal conflict research by CIESIN's Marc Levy and his colleagues. They found significant correlations between drought and conflict when utilizing global time-series analysis on subnational geo-referenced water scarcity and availability data: certain areas of the world were two to three times more likely to go to war if the previous year's rainfall was significantly below normal.

The conference program and participant list can be accessed online. Proposals for the next ISA conference, scheduled for February 28-March 3 in Chicago, Illinois, are due June 1, 2006.

To download the papers listed below, please search the online paper archive.

Resource Scarcity and Armed Conflict: Papers

  • "Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Armed Conflict" by Clionadh Raleigh and Henrik Urdal
  • "Green Giant or Straw Man? Environmental Pressure and Civil Conflict, 1961–99" by Helga Malmin Binningsbø, Indra de Soysa, and Nils Petter Gleditsch
  • "Other Pathways to Conflict? Environmental Scarcities and Domestic Conflict" by Ole Magnus Theisen
  • "Resource Scarcity and Pastoral Conflict in the Horn of Africa" by Patrick Meier and Doug Bond
  • "Trends and Triggers: Climate, Climate Change and Civil Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa" by Cullen S. Hendrix and Sarah M. Glaser

    Environmental Peacemaking: A Stages-of-Conflict Perspective: Papers
  • "From Threat to Opportunity: Exploiting Environmental Pathways to Peace" by Geoffrey D. Dabelko
  • "Environmental Stress, Resource Rights and Violence: Evidence from Nepal" by Richard Matthew and Bishnu Raj Upreti
  • "Harnessing the Environment in Post-conflict Peacebuilding" by Erika Weinthal
  • "Environmental Peacebuilding in War-Torn Societies: Some Lessons from the UN Environment Programme's Experience with Postconflict Environmental Assessment" by Ken Conca

    Water Scarcity – Conflict and Cooperation: Papers
  • "Shared Rivers and International Cooperation" by Marit Brochmann and Nils Petter Gleditsch
  • "‘What Did Rome Ever Do for Us?' State Capacity, Water Resources & Conflict" by Theodora-Ismen Gizelis and Amanda E. Wooden
  • "Freshwater Availability Anomalies and Outbreak of Internal War: Results from a Global Spatial Time Series Analysis" by Marc A.Levy, Catherine Thorkelson, Charles Vörösmarty, Ellen Douglas, Macartan Humphreys
  • "What Do We Know About Local Conflicts With Water Components?" by Fredrik Thomasson

    Troubled Waters: Cooperation and Conflict in Water Management: Papers
  • "Cooperation or Conflict: Water in Central Asia" by Darya Pushkina
  • "Troubled Waters: Neoliberalism and the Failure of International Water Management" by Sheryl Shirley and Whitney Howarth

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    Experts & Staff

    • Roger-Mark De Souza // Director of Population, Environmental Security and Resilience, Wilson Center
    • Sandeep Bathala // Senior Program Associate, Environmental Change and Security Program, Maternal Health Initiative
    • Katharine Diamond // Program Assistant, Environmental Change and Security Program
    • Benjamin Dills // Program Assistant, Environmental Change and Security Program
    • Lauren Herzer // Program Associate, Environmental Change and Security Program
    • John Thon Majok // Program Associate, Environmental Change and Security Program
    • Schuyler Null // Web Editor and Writer/Editor, Environmental Change and Security Program, Maternal Health Initiative
    • Meaghan Parker // Writer/Editor, Environmental Change and Security Program
    • Sean Peoples // Multimedia Producer and Program Associate, Environmental Change and Security Program
    • Geoffrey D. Dabelko // Senior Advisor, Environmental Change and Security Program
    • Ruth Greenspan Bell // Public Policy Scholar
    • William Krist // Senior Policy Scholar
    • Louise Lief // Public Policy Scholar
    • John W. Sewell // Senior Scholar