06 Dec ‘Climate Change Migrants’: Impediments to a Protection Framework and the Need to Incorporate Migration into Climate Change Adaptation Strategies
‘Climate Change Migrants’: Impediments to a Protection Framework and the Need to Incorporate Migration into Climate Change Adaptation Strategies
International Journal of Refugee Law
Despite the reality of climate change, no international agreement or protection framework exists to plan for or address the expected dramatic increase in migration. Current international refugee, environmental, and human rights law does not account for climate change-induced displacement and migration, creating legal gaps in protection. This article explores why these gaps persist and seeks to understand the barriers to a protection framework for climate change migrants. If improved protection is to be achieved, then a typology and assessment of the obstacles such an effort faces is a necessary first step. Accordingly, the analytical focus of this article is on the impediments to protection, including whether and how to define a category of ‘climate change migrants’, a lack of political will to create new protection obligations or to expand existing legal regimes, and the national security focus that dominates current climate change and migration discourse. Institutional capacity issues, the difficulty of linking climate change directly to migration, the causal complexity of climate change, and the limitations of civil society in its climate change advocacy further hinder protection efforts. To advance protection for those displaced or induced to migrate by the effects of climate change, however, the emphasis cannot remain exclusively on obstacles. Climate change presents an opportunity for local decision makers and the international community to plan for impacts, fulfil human rights obligations, and take action on behalf of those who are and will continue to be harmed by climate change. This article concludes by proposing a shift in primary focus from the national security of developed countries to the particular needs of migrant populations, which allows migration to be included in climate change adaptation strategies.
Nishimura, L. (2015). ‘Climate Change Migrants’: Impediments to a Protection Framework and the Need to Incorporate Migration into Climate Change Adaptation Strategies. International Journal of Refugee Law. URL : http://ijrl.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/02/11/ijrl.eev002.abstract