Fifth Geneva Convention

goya clubsFransisco de Goya, Lucha con Palos, 1820 -1823

Fifth Geneva Convention:
Nature, Conflict and International Law in the Anthropocene

A project by Paulo Tavares and Adrian Lahoud /
A PhD roundtable organised by the Centre for Research Architecture / London School of Economics

London, 25-26 January 2013 


“Every battle or war ends up fighting against things or, rather, doing them violence. … we must, therefore, once again, under the threat of collective death, invent a law for objective violence. We must make a new pact, a new preliminary agreement with the objective enemy of the human world: the world as such.” 

Michel Serres, The Natural Contract, 1992


Nature occupies a central place in the history of human conflict. Wars — colonial and modern — have been and will continue to be fought over control and appropriation of natural resources, while the purposeful transformation of environmental conditions, either by destruction or construction, has always been deployed as means through which conflicts are conducted in space. What has substantially changed, and with increasing intensity since the invention of atmospheric warfare in early twenty century, is the technological capacity in mobilizing the environment as medium of violence, the scale and duration of environmental destruction generated by modern war, and the exponential exhaustion of natural resources that feed the industrial basis that sustain the military complex. In turn, the violence of anthropogenic-induced modifications over environmental conditions led to radical transformations of the natural terrain itself, which in feedback-loops, is now transforming the politics of human conflicts.

The Fifth Geneva Convention sets out to debate the relations between the environment and conflict, nature and politics, as they intersect in military, humanitarian, legal and scientific practices, and transforming spatial conditions. Through a series of roundtables, the 5GC projects a long-term forum to enquire into the geological history of environmental violence in relation to the means by which such violence is deployed and legally moderated, and asks how post-climate change/post-anthropocene scenarios will transform the relations between human conflict and the environment, the law that regulates their interactions and, ultimately, our very understanding of nature itself.