Tag Archives: Environmental refugees

The Contribution of Human Rights as an Additional Perspective on Climate Change Impacts in the Pacific (S. Tully)

Author(s)

Stephen Tully

Keywords

Climate Change, Human Rights, Climate Impacts, United Nations, Pacific Islands, Resettlement, International Humanitarian Law, International Environmental Law, Environmental Refugees

Abstract

The adverse impacts of climate change include temperature variations, lost biodiversity and more frequent extreme weather events. In particular, low-lying Pacific Island countries and territories will be inundated if predicted sea level rises eventuate. These impacts threaten the continued enjoyment by Pacific Islanders of their fundamental human rights. Rising sea levels threatens their personal safety, continued good health, secure access to proper means of subsistence including food and water and the habitability of coastal settlements. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change encourages developed states to adopt measures that mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and financially support adaptation activity undertaken by developing countries. However, several states lack the requisite political will, financial support is inadequate, adaptation measures are limited and small island developing states are becoming increasingly vulnerable. This article provides an overview of climate change impacts within the Pacific region in human rights terms. It argues that the strategy of adaptation, although consistent with the sustainable development agenda, is limited as an effective long-term response to sea level rise. It proposes an international framework that ensures, in the worst-case scenario, that affected individuals are relocated and resettled within other states. It draws upon existing and emergent legal regimes with respect to humanitarian assistance, natural disasters, maritime law concerning search and rescue, internally displaced persons, the environmental refugee concept and the obligations of interstate cooperation arising under international environmental law in the event of transboundary harm. This framework will be most effective if underpinned by the many positive contributions to be made by the paradigm for the protection of human rights.

Citation

(2007) 5 New Zealand Journal of Public International Law 175

Paper

The Contribution of Human Rights as an Additional Perspective on Climate Change Impacts in the Pacific

FacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

International Legal Protection for Victims of Environmental Abuse (M.L. Schwartz)

Author(s)

Michelle Leighton Schwartz

Keywords

Human Rights, Right to life, Rights of indigenous peoples, procedural human rights, human right to a healthy environment, environmental refugees, desertification, flooding, international finance institutions, International Court of Justice, International Labour Organisation

Excerpt

Environmental disasters are increasing. They often result from human activities, such as the disposal of toxic chemicals, the generation of power, and the exploitation of oil. Mismanagement of natural resources has caused severe watershed erosion, desertification and atmospheric pollution which, in turn, have seriously impaired human life. Although the human suffering associated with environmental destruction is growing, international and regional human rights institutions have yet to clarify the obligations of governments to protect and provide remedies for these victims. This paper seeks to inspire such clarification and suggests legal and institutional reforms toward that end.

Citation

(1993) 18 Yale Journal of International Law 355

Paper

International Legal Protection for Victims of Environmental Abuse

FacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

The Protection of Environmentally-Displaced Persons in International Law (A. Lopez)

Author

Aurelie Lopez

Keywords

Environmental change, human migrations, environmental disasters, environmental refugees, environmentally-displaced persons, international protection, proposed international regime

Abstract

This Article focuses on the extent to which international law and practice provide the environmentally displaced with physical protection from serious human rights violations. Accordingly, it endeavours to better understand the phenomenon of environmentally-induced migration in order to foster constructive discussion on the issue. First, the Article illustrates the correlation between environmental degradation and migration, providing examples of environmentally-induced population movements. The Article further highlights the importance of the issue, reasserting scientists’ concerns over an aggravation of the problem in the near future. This is followed by a discussion of the legal means of protection available in international law. Finally, discussing the maelstrom stemming from the notion of “environmental refugees,” this Article analyzes various propositions advanced by legal scholars to foster protection for those environmentally displaced who do not fit neatly within the refugee definition, but deserve international protection nonetheless.

Citation

(2007) 37 Environmental Law 365

Paper

The Protection of Environmentally-Displaced Persons in International Law

FacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Stemming the Flow of Environmental Displacement: Creating a Convention…(D. Z. Falstrom)

Author

Dana Zartner Falstrom

Keywords

Displaced individuals, environmental reasons, environmental refugees, root causes, affirmative State obligations, protection

Abstract

While the number of people who have been displaced for environmental reasons is on the rise, it is a mistake to believe that the existing refugee structure and current refugee norms are adequate to protect these individuals. In this paper, I address the root causes of environmental degradation and catastrophe that are causing this increased migration of environmentally displaced persons. I also provide justification for my position that a new convention should be drafted providing protections for environmentally displaced persons and creating affirmative obligations for states to work toward preventing environmental displacement in the future.

Part II defines “ environmental refugees ” and describes how they have come to exist and where they come from. Several examples from recent years illustrate that environmental factors are often only one piece of a more complex puzzle. In Part III , I consider a representative commentator who argues that environmental refugees can be amply protected under existing refugee mechanisms—a position which fails to consider the definition of “ refugee ” in the international context. Even if these refugees could meet the academic criteria laid out in the definition of the Refugee Convention of 1951, individual states have implemented the provisions of the Convention in different ways—often, as in the case of the United States, in such a way that would make it practically impossible for an environmentally displaced person to be admitted to the state as a refugee . Accordingly, we must create a new mechanism for protecting environmentally displaced persons, addressing both the displacement and the environmental factors precipitating the displacement. Merely allowing environmentally displaced individuals to move does not solve the problem. Not only is their homeland continually decimated, but also the massive influx of environmental refugees to other areas creates a vicious cycle of environmental problems in these new areas.

Part IV outlines my suggested alternative to the proposal that environmentally displaced persons should be considered under the existing refugee structure. The solution for this problem must address not only the root of the problem ( environmental issues), but also the results ( environmental refugees ). Utilization of the Refugee Convention, while addressing the results, does not touch the root of the problem. I, therefore, propose that the international community address the problem of environmentally displaced persons in a manner similar to that of victims of torture. As with the Convention Against Torture, I suggest that states offer temporary protection to those fleeing from environmental problems, and also assume obligations and duties in order to solve these problems within their own jurisdictions, thus preventing the creation of environmental refugees from the start. Sufficient evidence of support for a new convention governing environmentally displaced persons already exists in international treaty law and customary international law, and can provide the necessary sense of state obligation for a new treaty to succeed.

Citation

(2001) Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy 2

Paper

Stemming the Flow of Environmental Displacement: Creating a Convention to Protect Persons and Preserve the Environment

FacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

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

Author

Jeanhee Hong

Keywords

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

Abstract

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.

Citation

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

Paper

Refugees of the 21st Century: Environmental Injustice

FacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmail