Professor Karen Hulme

Essex Law School
Professor Karen Hulme
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 872139

  • Location

    5S.6.20, Colchester Campus

  • Academic support hours

    By appointment



Karen joined the School of Law at Essex in 2001, and has particular interests in environmental law, the laws of armed conflict and environmental rights. Karen has a range of scholarly publications covering topics such as armed conflict, security, environmental human rights and specific weapons, as well as focusing on issues related to climate change, biodiversity and oceans. One area of interest is that of litter, including marine litter, and Karen co-authored a report on Litter Law in England and Wales with Dr. Samantha Davey, commissioned by the Countryside Charity (CPRE) and funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Karen collaborates with an NGO, The Conflict and Environment Observatory (CEOBS) [formerly the Toxic Remnants of War Project], 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 also Chair of the IUCN WCEL Specialist Group on Peace, Security and Conflict. Karen has also 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) and in 2013 was 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 (published on the NCP website). In 2013 EBHR was 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'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's book, based on her doctoral thesis, entitled, Worn Torn Environment: Interpreting the Legal Threshold won the American Society of International Laws 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 8 years, has acted as Head of School (2017-2020), Director of Education and Law Clinic Director.


  • LL.B. Law, Nottingham, 1995

  • LL.M. Public International Law, Nottingham, 1996

  • PhD, Essex, 2002

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Practice, Essex, 2006

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Laws of armed conflict

Environmental law

Human rights and the environment

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

Conferences and presentations

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

New York, United States, 2104

June 2016, Water and international humanitarian law, Geneva Water Hub.


June 2014, Human Rights as a Framework for Protection of the Environment in a Jus Post Bellum Context, Leiden University, The Hague

Leiden, Netherlands, 2014

December 2013, 'Current IHL provisions and Trends', Toxic Remnants of War Project, Manchester

Manchester, United Kingdom, 2013

June 2012 IHL standards for toxic remnants of war? Toxic Remnants of War Project, Berlin

Berlin, Germany, 2012

February 2012 Environment and International Humanitarian Law, Lund University, invited speaker.

Lund, Sweden, 2012

November 2011 Taking Care to Protect the Environment against Damage: A Meaningless Obligation?, invited speaker, T.M.C. Asser Institute, The Hague

The Hague, Netherlands, 2011

July 2010 The Environment in Armed Conflict, Program on Humanitarian Law and Policy Research at Harvard University, invited speaker (webinar)

Cambridge, United States, 2010

March 2010 Protecting the Environment during Armed Conflict, IUCN CEL Specialist Group Workshop, invited workshop speaker, Bonn

Bonn, Germany, 2010

March 2009 UNEP/ ICRC Expert Panel on the 30 year anniversary of the Additional Protocol provisions protecting the environment (Nairobi, Kenya).

Nairobi, Kenya, 2009

Sept 2008 Human Rights and Climate Change: Human and National Security Concerns, SLS Annual Conference (London).

London, United Kingdom, 2008

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).

United Kingdom, 2008

March 2007 Warfare and Climate Change, Triangle Institute of Strategic and Security Studies, (North Carolina University, US).

Durham, United States, 2007

Nov 2003 The Legality of the Attack on Iraq, 2003, in the Essex Law Department.

Colchester, United Kingdom, 2003

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.

Belgium, 2003

Sept 2003 The Legality of the Use of Cluster Weapons in Iraq, Annual Conference of the Society of Legal Scholars (Oxford).

Oxford, United Kingdom, 2003

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Global Challenges in Interdisciplinary Perspective: Water Conflicts, Water Cultures (CS315)

  • Law of Evidence (LW316)

  • International Environmental Law (LW356)

Previous supervision

Godswill Akpoduado Agbaitoro
Godswill Akpoduado Agbaitoro
Thesis title: Resolving Energy Challenges: Implementing and Evaluating an Energy Justice Framework for Nigeria
Degree subject: Law
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 17/5/2023
Helle Antonia Abelvik-Lawson
Helle Antonia Abelvik-Lawson
Thesis title: Indigenous Environmental Rights, Participation and Lithium Mining in Argentina and Bolivia: A Socio-Legal Analysis
Degree subject: Human Rights
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 18/11/2019
Peter Mason
Peter Mason
Degree subject: Law
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 17/9/2019
Caroline Keaney
Caroline Keaney
Degree subject: Child and Educational Psychology
Degree type: Doctorate
Awarded date: 20/4/2017
Tetyana Krupiy
Tetyana Krupiy
Thesis title: Risk as a Tool to Examine the Scope and Practical Application of International Humanitarian Law Targeting Rules.
Degree subject: Law
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 27/10/2014


Journal articles (12)

Hulme, K., (2023). Using International Environmental Law to Enhance Biodiversity and Nature Conservation During Armed Conflict. Journal of International Criminal Justice. 20 (5), 1155-1190

Sjöstedt, B. and Hulme, K., (2023). Re-evaluating international humanitarian law in a triple planetary crisis: New challenges, new tools. International Review of the Red Cross. 924 (924), 1238-1266

Hulme, K., (2020). Enhancing Environmental Protection During Occupation Through Human Rights. Goettingen Journal of International Law. 10 (1), 203-241

Hulme, K., (2016). The ILC's work stream on protection of the environment in relation to armed conflict. Questions of International Law (QIL)

Hulme, K. and Short, D., (2014). Ecocide and the Polluter Pays Principle: The Case of Fracking. Environmental Scientist. 23.2, 7-10

Hulme, K., (2010). Taking care to protect the environment against damage: a meaningless obligation?. International Review of the Red Cross. 92 (879), 675-691

Hulme, K., (2009). III. THE 2008 CLUSTER MUNITIONS CONVENTION: STEPPING OUTSIDE THE CCW FRAMEWORK (AGAIN). International and Comparative Law Quarterly. 58 (1), 219-227

Hulme, K., (2009). The 2008 Cluster Munitions Convention: Stepping Outside the CCW Framework (Again). International and Comparative Law Quarterly. 58 (01), creators-Hulme=3AKaren=3A=3A

Hulme, K., (2009). Environmental Security: Implications for International Law. Yearbook of International Environmental Law. 19 (1), 3-26

Hulme, K., (2006). Radiation Warfare: A Review of the Legality of Depleted Uranium Weaponry. Canadian Yearbook of international Law/Annuaire canadien de droit international. 43, 197-296

Hulme, K., (2005). Armed Conflict and the Displaced. International Journal of Refugee Law. 17 (1), 91-116

Hulme, K., (2004). Of Questionable Legality: The Military Use of Cluster Bombs in Iraq in 2003. Canadian Yearbook of international Law/Annuaire canadien de droit international. 42, 143-196

Books (1)

Hulme, KL., (2017). Law of the Environment and Armed Conflict. Edward Elgar. 9781786431103

Book chapters (12)

Hulme, K., (2023). Assessing the contribution of human rights actors to environmental peacebuilding. In: Research Handbook on International Law and Environmental Peacebuilding. Edward Elgar Publishing. 230- 252. 9781789906912

Hulme, K. and Weir, D., (2021). Environmental protection in armed conflict. In: Research Handbook on International Environmental Law. Edward Elgar Publishing. 392- 411. 9781786439703

Hulme, KL., (2017). Review Article/ Introduction in edited collection. In: Law of the Environment and Armed Conflict. Editors: Hulme, KL., . Edward Elgar. 9781786431103

Hulme, K., (2017). Using a framework of human rights and transitional justice for post-conflict environmental protection and remediation. In: Environmental Protection and Transitions from Conflict to Peace: Clarifying Norms, Principles, and Practices. Editors: Stahn, C., Iverson, J. and Easterday, JS., . Oxford University Press. 119- 142. 0198784635. 9780198784630

Hulme, K., Ong, D. and Calley, D., (2016). New Maritime Security Threats. In: The IMLI Manual on International Maritime Law Volume III: Marine Environmental Law and International Maritime Security Law. Editors: Attard, D., Fitzmaurice, M., Martinez, N. and Hamza, R., . Oxford University Press (OUP). 9780199683949

Hulme, K., (2016). Armed Conflict and Biodiversity. In: Research Handbook on Biodiversity and Law. Editors: Bowman, M., Davies, P. and Goodwin, E., . Edward Elgar. 245- 270. 978 1 78100 478 4

Hulme, K., (2013). International Environmental Law and Human Rights. In: Routledge Handbook of International Human Rights Law. Editors: Rodley, N. and Sheeran, SP., . Routledge. 285- 301. 9780415620734

Hulme, K., (2013). Weapons. In: Research Handbook on International Conflict and Security Law. Editors: White, ND. and Henderson, C., . Edward Elgar. 315- 341. 9781849808569

Hulme, K., (2012). Climate Change and International Humanitarian Law. In: International Law in the Era of Climate Change. Edward Elgar Publishing. 190- 218. 9781849800303

Hulme, K., (2010). Environmental Protection in Armed Conflict. In: Research Handbook on International Environmental Law. Edward Elgar Publishing. 586- 604. 9781847201249

Hulme, K., (2010). A darker shade of green: is it time to ecocentrise the laws of war?. In: International Law and Armed Conflict: Challenges in the 21st Century. Editors: Qu�nivet, N. and Shah-Davis, S., . T M C Asser Press. 142- 160. 9789067043113

Hulme, K., (2001). Natural environment. In: Perspectives on the ICRC Study on Customary International Humanitarian Law. Cambridge University Press. 204- 237. 0521882907. 9780521882903

Reports and Papers (1)

Davey, S. and Hulme, K., (2020). Litter Law

Grants and funding


Implementing the International Law Commission Draft Principles on Protection of the Environment in relation to Armed Conflict

University of Essex (ESRC IAA)


A Strategy to solve England's litter problem

Campaign to Protect Rural England

+44 (0) 1206 872139


5S.6.20, Colchester Campus

Academic support hours:

By appointment