Issues for Legal Protection of Climate-related Migrants and Displaced Persons

Michelle Leighton Center for Law and Global Justice University of San Francisco School of Law

Overview  Human displacement or migration in response to climate disasters implicate human rights and humanitarian law. .  Standards are uneven or ambiguous depending on the climate impact--government obligations depend on nature and type of climate disaster: In some cases standards are defined and in other cases they do not exist.  Human rights standards and government obligations relating to voluntary and forced migration responses will need to be clarified in order to protect all climate victims.

. children). • Human rights law: states also owe duties to individuals. minorities. •special responsibility to protect vulnerable groups (indigenous peoples. •special duties owed toward refugees. •Human rights /humanitarian law oblige government’s to: prevent disasters. protect victims affected by disaster. women.Basis of states legal obligations •International law: states owe duties to each other. protect and fulfill human rights. and assist victims in territory and/or refugees. •duty to respect.

and 2007 Red Cross Guidelines for Domestic Facilitation and Regulation of International Disaster Relief .  Improve strategic coordination of government assistance Reinforced by the 2006 IASC Operational guidelines on Human Rights and Natural Disasters. Tung X. Ngo/IRIN Flood Vietnam 2005 Hyogo Framework for Action  Disaster risk reduction—help countries reduce vulnerability.Climate change and disasters Is Climate Change a disaster? Humanitarian norms convey responsibility on governments to provide relief to disaster victims in their territory and to help disaster victims in other states less able to do so.

including assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons.‖ --Committee Eonomic.Human rights norms on cooperation and assistance Covenant on Ecomonic. to cooperate in providing disaster relief and humanitarian assistance in times of emergency. additional 6 signed. Social and Cultural Rights. Social.  This includes climate disasters—does assistance include permitting ―migration when there is no or few alternatives?‖ . Cultural Rights: ― States parties have a joint and individual responsibility.S. IESCR treaty body 160 countries ratified. including U. in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and relevant resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and of the World Health Assembly.

. water. including as they cross political borders.Human rights in the context of climate-related migration Human rights provides for freedom of movement. All rights attach to the human person and their dignity wherever they reside or move. and housing right to culture right to information and participation in decision-making right to asylum. Scope of state’s duties change but include minimum protections for: – – – – – – – – right to be free from discrimination right to property right to family and privacy right to health right to food.

receiving country migration laws on disaster victims. slower-onset.org order disrupted. legal status and/or work when they move in response to climate disasters? Does it depend on type of disaster? 1. 3. whether state of emergency or public Zunia. rapid-onset v. requiring regional state protection. . 2.Government obligations toward climate-related migrants Are migrants entitled to receive protection.

1951 Refugee Convention. Refugee norms may apply only if emergency or environment-related conflict. U.and desertification through labor migration. European Court.N. resolutions.International migrants: slow-onset disasters People seek to cope with drought. 1969 OAU convention on Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa: ―events seriously disturbing public order. Temporary protection status (only for migrants to Denmark). .‖ 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees (Latin American region): includes similar provision to OAU. InterAmerican Commission cases: principle of nonrefoulement prevents return.

60% of agriculture Senegal: 52%. - .3 billion in drylands threatened by mega-droughts. Sudan: 56% Equatorial Africa: 60% 42% Mexico 45% India 2.FUTUE DISASTER: 21 Countries to lose between 30% .

Shamsuddin Ahmed/IRIN  The international community has provided assistance.  Council of Europe and some countries have TPS: applies to those already in-country and very narrow protection.International migrants: rapid-onset disasters  Those migrating from storms. floods. . including allowing for temporary migration. hurricanes seek temporary refuge. No return if dangerous and/or country of origin could not assist.

International migrants: sea-level rise Who will be responsible? Photo courtesy of SPREP  Persons living on small island states displaced due to seawater intrusion or forced to migrate permanently.  European Directive on Subsidiary Protection: would convey temporary status to third party nationals. .  May result in ―statelessness.

and who have not crossed a state border. right to life. . nor harmful to the needs of indigenous or marginalized groups dependent on their lands.  Climate adaptation plan include recognition of migration or forced relocation but do not identify standards that would apply.‖  Guidelines protect the right of internal movement. May not be arbitrary / discriminatory.Internally displaced persons I ―Persons forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence.  Forced relocation only as last resort to protect the health and safety of those affected . as a result of or to avoid effects of…natural or human-made disasters. dignity and security of persons displaced.

countries in region with treaty have higher standards than in other regions.g. e.  Not all disaster victims protected equally: Laws protect some but not all victims forced to migrate depending on type of disaster and whether receiving country has favorable laws.Gaps and disparities in protection  Not all climate disasters addressed equally: . .Rapid-onset disasters receive greater recognition as disaster and larger assistance than slow-onset. rather than the victim’s immediate need.  Not all countries are accountable equally: Standards largely voluntary (including for IDPs) and protection of victims inconsistent. Kampala Convention). Droughts.

 Persons moving inside or outside their country as a consequence of slower-onset climatic events.  Persons moving to international destinations from islands threatened by sea-level rise. or salinization resulting from sea water moving inland---persons could be rendered stateless. coastal storm surges.  Persons moving across borders to seek refuge from designated ―highrisk‖ zones too dangerous for human habitation due to climate danger. persistent drought. Niger .Who is unprotected?  Persons moving across international borders due to the sudden-onset of natural climate disasters.  Persons forced to relocate or resettle under government programs of adaptation—no binding guidelines apply. such as long-term.

 At a minimum. provide greater protection for international migrants not able to return due to climate events. Some call for a full convention treaty text on the subject. .  Where climate adaptation programs acknowledge migration will occur. possibly through national migration management systems. – Council of Europe parliamentary committee recommended adopting standards for climate migrants within a migration agreement or protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights.  Facilitate a holistic approach to research and policy development.  Adopt international or regional agreements (similar to Kampala Convention) that solidify the IDP Guiding Principles to ensure implementation and increase accountability.Filling the normative gaps  Clarify standards of protection for climate-related migrants. assist governments in managing migration in ways that will enhance the positive impacts and reduce the adverse impacts of forced displacement.

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