Academic Staff

Professor Karen Hulme LLB and LLM (Nottingham), PhD (Essex).

Position in departmentDirector of Undergraduate Admissions & Recruitment (Spring Term)
Staff positionProfessor
Telephone01206 872139
Office hoursAcademic Support: Thursday 9:30 - 11:30am

Karen joined the School of Law at Essex in 2001. She has particular interests in environmental law, the laws of armed conflict and environmental rights. Karen has worked with the Essex Business and Human Rights Project (EBHR) on a number of reports and consultancies on the extractives industry, including legislation amendments and human rights impact monitoring, and, in particular, on issues of environmental law and environmental human rights. In 2013 EBHR was commissioned to advise on necessary amendments to Afghanistan’s new Mining Code and Regulations for Global Witness, A Shaky Foundation: Analysing Afghanistan's Draft Mining Law, and in 2013 we were commissioned by Amnesty International, writing an opinion for the OECD National Contact Point examining the legal standards and human right responsibilities of the mining company licensed to undertake the Phulbari coal mining project (the opinion is soon to be published on the NCP website). In 2013 we were commissioned by Amnesty International (Netherlands) to advise on necessary amendments to Senegal’s (Gold) Mining Code in order to ensure compliance with their ECOWAS obligations.

Karen also works with an NGO, the Toxic Remnants of War Project (part of ICBUW – International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons), as an adviser on humanitarian, environmental and human rights issues in eliminating battlefield TRW. In 2009 Karen contributed, alongside the International Committee for the Red Cross, to the report for UNEP on Protecting the Environment during Armed Conflict: An Inventory and Analysis of International Law. Karen is currently writing a report for the UN Independent Expert on the right to a healthy environment – the report is on the right to a healthy environment in times of armed conflict, and is a member of the IUCN, including their special expert group on Warfare and Environment.

Karen's teaching interests include public international law, environmental law, international law of armed conflict, human rights and the environment, and the law of evidence. Karen also teaches on the inter-disciplinary postgraduate MA/MSc Environment and Resource Management.

Karen's book, based on her doctoral thesis, entitled, ‘Worn Torn Environment: Interpreting the Legal Threshold’ won the American Society of International Law’s Francis Lieber Prize for 2004 for ‘outstanding scholarship in the field of the law of armed conflict’.

Karen also the founded and directed the Essex Law Clinic for 6 years.


LL.B. Law, Nottingham, 1995
LL.M. Public International Law, Nottingham, 1996
PhD, Essex, 2002
Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Practice, Essex, 2006

Current research

international humanitarian law where it intersects with environmental protection

human rights and the environment, including governance issues surrounding climate change, adaptation and resilience

environmental law and fracking

envirionmental human rights implicated by large scale development projects

Research interests
  • Laws of armed conflict
  • Environmental law
  • Human rights and the environment
Teaching responsibilities

LW316 The Law of Evidence

LW218 and LW219 Public International Law

LW804 Topics in the International Law of Armed Conflict

LW105 Academic, Legal and Professional Skills


Karen Hulme, War Torn Environment: Interpreting the Legal Threshold, Martinus Nijhoff, 2004


Journal Articles
  • With Damien Short, “Ecocide and the Polluter Pays Principle: The Case of Fracking” (2014) Environmental Scientist vol23.2, 7-10.
  • "Taking care to protect the environment: A meaningless obligation?", (2010) 92 IRRC 879: 675-691.
  • “The 2008 Cluster Munitions Convention: Stepping Outside the CCW Framework (Again)”, (2009) 58 ICLQ 1: 23-31.
  • "Environmental Security: Implications for International Law", (2008) 19 YIEL 3-26.
  • “Radiation Warfare: A Review of the Legality of Depleted Uranium Weaponry“, (2005) 43 Canadian Yearbook of International Law pp.197-296
  • “Of Questionable Legality: The Military Use of Cluster Bombs in Iraq, 2003“, (2004) 42 Canadian Yearbook of International Law pp.145-197
  • “Armed Conflict and the Displaced“, (2005) 17, International Journal of Refugee Law, pp.91-11
  • “Armed Conflict, Wanton Ecological Devastation and Scorched Earth Policies: How the 1990-91 Gulf Conflict Revealed the Inadequacies of the Current Laws to Ensure Effective Protection and Preservation of the Natural Environment”, (1997) 2 Journal of Armed Conflict Law

Edited Book Contributions

  • Karen Hulme, ‘Biodiversity and Armed Conflict’, Edward Goodwin, Research Handbook on Biodiversity and Law, Edward Elgar (forthcoming).
  • Karen Hulme, 'International Environmental Law and Human Rights’, Sheeran and Rodley (eds), Routledge Handbook of International Human Rights Law (Routledge, 2013).
  • Karen Hulme, 'Weapons', Henderson and White (eds), Research Handbook on International Conflict and Security Law: Jus Ad Bellum, Jus In Bello, And Jus Post Bellum (Edward Elgar, 2013).
  • Karen Hulme, 'International Humanitarian Law', in Rayfuse and Scott, International Law in the Era of Climate Change (Edward Elgar, 2012).
  • Karen Hulme, ‘Climate Change and Armed Conflict: Is It Time to Ecocentrise the Laws of War?’, in Quénivet and Shah-Davis, International Law and Armed Conflict: Challenges in the 21st Century (T.M.C. Asser Instituut, 2010), pp.142-160.
  • Karen Hulme and David Ong, ‘The Challenge of Global Environmental Change for International Law: An Overview’, in Low, Global Change and Sustainable Development: Asia-Pacific Perspectives (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).
  • Karen Hulme, ‘Environmental Protection in Armed Conflict’, in Malgosia and Ong, Research Handbook on International Environmental Law (Edward Elgar, 2010) 586-604.
  • Karen Hulme, ‘Natural Environment’, in Wilmhurst and Breau, Perspectives on the ICRC Customary International Humanitarian Law Study (Cambridge University Press, 2007).


Other Publications
  • October 2104, ‘Environmental Place-Based Protections in Conflict and Cultural Property’, IUCN/Rutgers University Conference on the ILC topic of the Protection of the Environment in relation to Armed Conflict, UN Building, New York
  • June 2014, ‘Human Rights as a Framework for Protection of the Environment in a Jus Post Bellum Context’, Leiden University, The Hague
  • December 2013, 'Current IHL provisions and Trends', Toxic Remnants of War Project, Manchester
  • June 2012 ‘IHL standards for toxic remnants of war?’ Toxic Remnants of War Project, Berlin
  • February 2012 ‘Environment and International Humanitarian Law’, Lund University, invited speaker.
  • November 2011 ‘Taking Care to Protect the Environment against Damage: A Meaningless Obligation?’, invited speaker, T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague
  • July 2010 ‘The Environment in Armed Conflict’, Program on Humanitarian Law and Policy Research at Harvard University, invited speaker (webinar)
  • March 2010 ‘Protecting the Environment during Armed Conflict’, IUCN CEL Specialist Group Workshop, invited workshop speaker, Bonn
  • March 2009 UNEP/ ICRC Expert Panel on the 30 year anniversary of the Additional Protocol provisions protecting the environment (Nairobi, Kenya).
  • Sept 2008 “Human Rights and Climate Change: Human and National Security Concerns”, SLS Annual Conference (London).
  • Sept 2008 "Climate Change and Armed Conflict: Is It Time to Ecocentrise the Laws of War”, Conference on the Challenges to the Laws of Armed Conflict (UWE).
  • Feb 2008 “Do we need a human right to a healthy environment?”, Human Rights Centre Panel on Environment and Human Rights (Essex).
  • March 2007 “Warfare and Climate Change”, Triangle Institute of Strategic and Security Studies, (North Carolina University, US).
  • Nov 2003 “The Legality of the Attack on Iraq, 2003”, in the Essex Law Department.
  • Oct 2003 Invited to give two papers, “International Law and Politics Since September 11 and Case Study: The Iraq Crisis and Beyond – The Future Role of the United Nations”, for the MA in International Politics at the University of Brussels.
  • Sept 2003 “The Legality of the Use of Cluster Weapons in Iraq”, Annual Conference of the Society of Legal Scholars (Oxford).
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