Morten Broberg

Portrait of the recipient of the Carlsberg Foundation Research Prize 2016

What is your primary field of research?

As a professor of international development law, my research is aimed towards the legal situation, which has particular importance for developing countries. This includes regulation of the development aid that is provided to developing countries by rich countries. I also examine issues where it may appear difficult to see how some conditions are relevant for developing countries. This includes, for example, some of our laws on food safety and ecology. These laws are often designed without the legislature giving any thought towards developing countries. But, in several cases, these laws create essential – unintended - trade barriers for products from developing countries. The challenge is therefore to identify systems that can avoid or at least limit such undesirable consequences.

What are the challenges of and prospects for your research?

My foremost task is to identify some of the key challenges that developing countries are facing and to develop workable solutions to these. For example, I have chosen to focus on the so-called "slow catastrophes" (slow on-set disasters). When we hear the word disaster, we usually think of earthquakes, tsunamis and other similar sudden, violent incidents. But several disasters only occur slowly and sometimes so imperceptibly that we in the West are not even aware of them. For example parts of Ethiopia has experienced drought for a long time, and we know that about 10 million people are threatened by famine. It is a clear, slow disaster where prompt action saves many lives and much suffering, but the relief organizations sadly meet difficulty in attracting donors before the situation turns into a real disaster.

Going forward, some of the most obvious examples of slow disasters are likely to be caused by the on-going climate and environmental changes. We can therefore expect increased drought, more extensive forest fires, changes in rainfall patterns, more and stronger tropical storms, and it will be the populations in the developing countries that are affected first. We need to clarify both the expected future climate and environmental challenges that can lead to disaster, and we have a strong need to develop societal solutions that can reduce or avert that these challenges actually become disasters.

How did you get into your field of research?

My career as a researcher began in classic European law. I became employed as a lecturer in European law when I obtained a grant from The Danish Council for Independent Research | Social Sciences about 10 years ago. The grant gave me the opportunity to work on a project on EU regulations on food in 2007-2008. The project was anchored at the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), and through my work there it became clear to me that particularly the foreign-related legal aspects were essential. My stay at DIIS showed me that international development law constituted a large and important, but surprisingly unexplored area of ​​research. When I in 2008 returned to the Faculty, I therefore redefined my research field to "international development law".

What does it mean to you to receive the Carlsberg Foundation Research Prize?

When I first heard that it had been decided to award me the Carlsberg Foundation Research Prize 2016, I was of course very honoured and grateful. At the same time, I feel a deep humility because I am part of the very active, inter-faculty research- and development environment at the University of Copenhagen. I learn immeasurably much from my colleagues there, and I therefore also regard the award as recognition of this environment.

Private background: family relationships, hobbies, etc.

After I wrote my Ph.D. on European competition law, I have been employed as a clerk at the Ministry of Justice, as Secretary (Legal Assistant) to the President of the Court of Justice of the European Union, and in the law firm Bech-Bruun. In 2001, I returned to academia, where I was an associate professor and later became a professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Copenhagen. I am a father of two soccer-playing girls of 14 and 17 years, whom I "share" with their mother. When I don’t have the girls, I currently stay mainly in Cambridge. I relax best with a run in the woods.