Climate migration

The emerging need for a human-centred approach

Authored by: Sennan Mattar , Enyinnaya Mbakwem

Routledge Handbook of Climate Justice

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138689350
eBook ISBN: 9781315537689
Adobe ISBN:


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Forced migration is a phenomenon expected to be exacerbated by climate change as more frequent climate-related natural disasters result in the increase of human displacement. These displaced persons are popularly referred to as “environmental/climate refugees,” but their classification is a contentious topic. The 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees limits the use of the term refugee to those with “well-founded fears” of political persecution resulting in “trans-boundary flight.” Extreme weather events cannot be argued as a persecutor under the current international legal regime. The lack of an appropriate definition means there is no recognition of, or assistance given to, those who are forced to (a) internally migrate, (b) leave their homes due to economic and social persecution and (c) flee climate-related natural disasters. This creates an atmosphere where the violation of the rights of these vulnerable migrants is possible, thus, the need to address the human dimension of climate change.

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