Climate justice without freedom: Assessing legal and political responses to climate change and forced migration

Type

Journal Article

Author(s)

Skillington, Tracey

Title

Climate justice without freedom: Assessing legal and political responses to climate change and forced migration

Year

2015

Journal

European Journal of Social Theory

Abstract

Storm surges, flooding, heatwaves, and prolonged drought, as ever more regular features of life under deteriorating climate conditions, are unmistakably violent. Their effects on the lives of vulnerable human populations and ecosystems across the world are widely known to be devastating. Yet a legal order that denies the victims of such ecological persecution safe haven, no matter how great its use of force (e.g., detention, arrest, forced return) cannot, by definition, be violent. The power of law, used to protect states’ rights to exclude from their jurisdictions growing numbers displaced involuntarily by global climate harms, in being a source of ‘legitimate right’, is never the same as violence. This article challenges the ongoing validity of this assumption. It points to some of the ways in which legal instruments are used today to deny those displaced by climatic conditions sufficient normative status to guarantee their safety. What is needed instead is a new critical normative understanding of the evolving relationship between climate change, violence, justice, and law, one that re-assesses the democratic justificatory grounds for the current positions of non-responsibility for the climate displaced whilst re-affirming such people’s legal and political status as equal co-members of the politically constituted international community of humanity.

Citation

Skillington, T. (2015). Climate justice without freedom: Assessing legal and political responses to climate change and forced migration. European Journal of Social Theory. URL : http://est.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/04/22/1368431015579967.abstract

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