After a postponement back in April and various attempts at a hybrid format, this year’s joint workshop of the MPIL and the AA broke new ground as a fully digital event. The afternoon workshop, chaired by Anne Peters and Christophe Eick, Director-General for Legal Affairs at the Federal Foreign Office and Legal Adviser to the German Government on International Law, gave 28 participants with backgrounds in law, politics, and natural sciences the opportunity to engage intensively with the implications of climate change for international security.
The confidential workshop, organized by the Legal Directorate-General at the German Foreign Office and MPIL’s Berlin Office, is intended to facilitate exchange between academia and practice on current issues of international law. The Institute’s researchers offer insights from their respective fields of academic expertise while practitioners from the AA, in turn, provide impulses to the academic field.
Issues discussed in past joint workshops included the overarching challenges to the international order (2016), cyber-attacks below the threshold of armed attack (2017), and questions of international law dealing with refugees and migration (2019).
The 2020 workshop addressed the pressing issue of climate change and international security. With December marking the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement and Germany having used its membership in and presidency of the UN Security Council to promote the issue, the event proved a welcome opportunity to take stock of progress and deficiencies on the matter. While staying true to its legal orientation, the workshop paid particular attention to situations where climate change acts as a threat multiplier and on the legal strategies employed to manage these security issues.
This year’s workshop benefitted from a brief overview on the science behind the law by Felix Creutzig, Professor of Sustainability Economics at Technische Universität Berlin, leader of a Working Group at MCC Berlin, and coordinator of a chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s assessment report on climate solutions.
Subsequently, Erin Pobjie and Guillaume Futhazar examined international law’s response to climate change as a factor of international peace and security. Following their concise insights, a roundtable discussion was moderated by Thore Neumann of Division 500 on General International Law at the AA. Questions discussed considered the responsibility and role of the UN Security Council, changing concepts of international security, and the political realities of international action on climate change.
Guillaume Futhazar and Tom Sparks began the third and last segment of the workshop with an overview of the status quo, perspectives, and trends of climate change-induced threats before international courts. The ensuing discussion, moderated by Alexandra Kemmerer, touched upon legal risks and chances such trends might constitute for States generally and Germany specifically, as well as the controversial issue of whether contentious legal proceedings are even desirable as a solution to climate change.
This latest instalment in the workshop series once again proved the value of an informed and fruitful dialogue between academia and practice. Despite this year’s adverse circumstances, the opportunity to uphold the cooperation between the Institute and the Federal Foreign Office was greatly appreciated on both sides.
Report: Jakob Hach and Laura Kraft
Photo by Ivars Krutainis on Unsplash