Protection of Climate Displaced Persons under International Law: A Case Study from Mataso Island, Vanuatu

Type

Journal Article

Author(s)

Wewerinke-Singh, M.
Van Geelen, T.

Title

Protection of Climate Displaced Persons under International Law: A Case Study from Mataso Island, Vanuatu

Year

2018

Journal

Melbourne Journal of International Law

Vol (No), pp

19(2)

Abstract

International human rights law has evolved to offer specific protection to persons who are internally displaced. This protection is becoming increasingly important as the effects of climate change are putting more populations around the world at risk of displacement. However, there is still limited empirical insight into the factors that enhance or undermine effective protection of the rights of climate displaced persons in practice. This article seeks to fill this gap, drawing on a case study of climate displacement resulting from Tropical Cyclone Pam which struck the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu in March 2015. We note that Vanuatu has an expansive suite of laws and policies dedicated to disaster preparation, risk reduction and response, as well as climate change and disaster displacement. However, its capacity to fulfil its human rights obligations in the face of climate disasters is undermined by a lack of resources and institutional capacity. We argue that this gap must be addressed through an integrated approach to international law that emphasises human rights obligations of international cooperation and assistance along with obligations relating to climate change mitigation, adaptation and capacity building under international climate change law. Vanuatu’s experience with Cyclone Pam also provides a clear case for strengthening the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage Associated with Climate Change Impacts (‘Warsaw Mechanism’) in a manner that results in enhanced human rights protection for climate displaced persons.

Citation

Wewerinke-Singh, M., & Van Geelen, T. (2018). Protection of Climate Displaced Persons under International Law: A Case Study from Mataso Island, Vanuatu. Melbourne Journal of International Law, 19(2). URL : https://law.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/2983058/Wewerinke-Singh-and-Van-Geelen-unpaginated.pdf

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