Call for Papers | Glasgow ESIL Research Forum 2022 | The Institutionalization of Climate Security

The ESIL Interest Group on International Organizations welcomes submissions from early career scholars for the interest group workshop taking place as part of the ESIL Research Forum in Glasgow on Wednesday, 30 March 2022

THEME: The Institutionalization of Climate Security

World peace and international security are key areas of international law in which international organizations have always been present. Climate change, conversely, is an area of international law in which international organizations and the understanding of their law and their law-making capacity has up until recently barely made an appearance. There is no international organization dedicated to the environment and this field is instead characterized by so-called ‘informal’ institutions or frameworks, such as Conferences of the Parties, public-private partnerships, and joint subsidiary organs. The Global Environmental Facility, for instance, is one such complex and unique governance body that went through several institutional transformations. Originally created as a pilot of the World Bank, it later involved the UNEP and the UNDP, and it is today entangled with multilateral environmental agreements, to which it serves as a public-private body for financing their activities.  

As a result, traditional organizations address climate change filtered by their mandates, primarily  through the lens of ‘security’. For instance, in a recent speech, the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that ‘climate change makes the world more dangerous’ and ‘makes it harder for our military forces to keep our people safe’. He further added that ‘we all have a responsibility to do more to combat climate change’, and NATO’s interest derives from ‘practical military reasons. Not just to save the environment, but to save lives’. However, in terms of concrete contributions to cut carbon emissions, he claimed that ‘NATO is setting an example. This headquarters, here in Brussels, is a green building. Using geothermal power for heat. And rainwater collection for building maintenance’ which has little to do with NATO missions and the destructive environmental impact of conflicts. Similarly, the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, linked climate change and security without mentioning the role played by the UN itself.  Yet, we also see a backlash against this in the likes of the UN Security Council where Russia vetoed a resolution that would link climate change to international peace and security, suggesting that it would be a ‘disastrous politicization of the climate agenda and lead us away from unified and genuinely global cooperation.’ 

The primacy of the framing between security and climate change raises a number of possible questions: How do international organizations expand their competences to include climate security? Should they expand their competences and how do we guard against ‘greenwashing’? Is there a risk that climate change becomes another justification for intervention, humanitarian or otherwise? How are international organizations competing against each other to fill new spaces of global governance? How do or should these organizations adapt to new challenges? Is climate security an opportunity or a threat to international organizations? And are international organizations and their framing of climate change as an issue of securitisation a threat to effectively combating climate change? Are there or should there be international obligations obliging international organizations to cut emissions in their activities related to climate security? What might these obligations look like? Is there a role for accountability mechanisms and international responsibility? Is enough research being undertaken to understand the ‘informal’ organizations governing climate security? What is the legal status of informal institutional bodies active in climate security? How do international organizations interact with private actors for the purposes of climate security?

We call for papers that confront the questions arising from the role of international organizations in the interaction between security and climate change. We welcome papers that critically consider the contribution of international organizations to climate change and the limits of the law of international organizations in dealing with this issue.

Abstract Submission and Procedure

An abstract of between 500 and 600 words, together with a small biography of no more than 200 words, should be submitted by Monday, 31 January 2022 to CoordinatingCommittee[@]igioesil[.]blog. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their proposals by mid-February. Participants will be expected to submit an extended abstract of 3,000 words ahead of the Research Forum.

Given the aims and format of the panels adopted by ESIL, the Interest Group will select abstracts pursuant to the following criteria:

  • Submissions by early-career scholars
  • Originality and innovativeness of the work
  • Relevance to the Panel theme
  • Geographical and gender balance

The following information must be provided with each abstract:

  • The author’s name and any affiliation
  • Small biography (should be included in the same document)
  • The author’s contact details
  • Whether the author is a current ESIL member

The ESIL encourages anyone participating in its activities to become a member, as the Society relies primarily on membership contributions to ensure its sustainability.


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