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A Vicious Circle: State-building, Climate Change Vulnerability and the Monopoly of Violence in Basra, Iraq
May 26, 2023

This paper explores the climate change, conflict, and state-building nexus, challenging the prevailing one-dimensional view of this relationship. While global actors like the UN Security Council and the European Union recognize climate change as a "threat multiplier" that intensifies conflict risks, this paper argues that state-building processes can also significantly influence the impact of climate change. By examining the story of Basra, Iraq, this case study highlights how Iraq's vulnerability to climate change is not solely a consequence of environmental factors but also stems from the enduring legacy of decades of war. This vulnerability, coupled with the state's limited monopoly of violence, creates a feedback loop wherein non-state actors strengthen their control over territory and resources as the state‚Äôs climate change vulnerability increases. The findings of this analysis have implications for climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, underscoring the need to address both conflict dynamics and state-building processes to effectively tackle climate change.