Refugees of the 21st Century: Environmental Injustice (J. Hong)


Jeanhee Hong


Environmental refugees, environmental-induced migration, environmental disasters, refugee law


This Note focuses on two types of environmentally -induced migrations: (1) those caused by immediate man-made environmental catastrophes, such as industrial or technological accidents, and (2) those caused by long-term human activity, such as exploitation or inefficient management of resources. Part I of the paper summarizes the development of international and U.S. refugee law. Part II discusses current U.S. refugee law–in particular the 1980 Refugee Act–and international refugee law, as well as the controversies surrounding the interpretation and application of the definitions of “ refugee ” under these laws. Part III discusses recent examples of the two types of man-made environmental disasters described above. Part IV assesses the reasons for recognizing victims of environmental disasters as refugees in light of legislative history and interpretive guides to international and U.S. refugee law. Part V proposes changes to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and international refugee law that would accord refugee status to persons whose lives are threatened by man-made environmental disasters. Finally, Part VI concludes by summarizing the broader implications of such a change in refugee policy.


(2001) 10 Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy 323


Refugees of the 21st Century: Environmental Injustice