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Violent climate or climate of violence? Concepts and relations with focus on Kenya and Sudan

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Scheffran, J., Ide, T., & Schilling, J. (2014). Violent climate or climate of violence? Concepts and relations with focus on Kenya and Sudan. International Journal of Human Rights, 18(3), 369-390. doi:10.1080/13642987.2014.914722.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0019-B251-E
Addressing deficits of current research on the link between climate change and violent conflict, this article aims to contribute to a more systematic understanding of the violence concept in the context of environmental change. We present a theoretical framework and potential pathways between climate change and violence and an agent-based approach to assess the interplay between capabilities and motivations for violence and the conditions for conflicting or cooperative interactions. Acting as a ‘threat multiplier’, climate change could exceed adaptive capacities and undermine the livelihoods of communities. In the most affected regions, the erosion of social order and state failure as well as already ongoing violent conflicts could be aggravated, leading to a spiral of violence that further dissolves societal structures. Against this background we analyse case studies in Kenya and Sudan, focusing on factors driving or preventing a spiral of violence. While interpastoral conflicts in north-western Kenya result in limited numbers of casualties, the Darfur conflict has been shaped by the civil war in Sudan, involving the government, rebel forces and militias, causing significant loss of lives and destruction. The impact of climate change is less direct in Sudan than in Kenya. To avoid a spiral of violence, in both cases it is essential to reduce socio-economical marginalisation, develop resource-sharing mechanisms and restrain access to arms as part of long-term strategies for a sustainable and peaceful intervention to contain the adverse impacts of climate change.