The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Paul Martin, Li Zhiping, Qin Tianbao, Anel Du Plessis, Yves Le Bouthillier and Angela Williams
Chapter 12: Human Rights Law, Refugee and Migration Law, and Environmental Law: Exploring their Contributions in the Context of ‘Environmental Migration’
Michèle Morel1 12.1 INTRODUCTION The plight of so-called ‘climate refugees’ or ‘environmental refugees’ has become a hot topic for discussion and writings. Geographers, anthropologists, political scientists and lawyers arrange meetings on the issue to debate the existence of such refugees, their number, the causes of flight, and the existing or needed institutional policies and legal frameworks. While people have always used migration as a strategy for responding to environmental changes, it is the increasing worldwide attention to the phenomenon of climate change that has made academics, policy makers and the NGO community turn their attention towards those who are forced to leave their homes due to environmental changes. Importantly, many more people negatively affected by environmental changes lack the necessary funds to move. As a result, despite deserving as much attention and protection, they risk finding themselves neglected and in the shadow of those who are on the move. The issue of environmental migration raises important questions, some of the legal questions being analysed in this chapter. The existing literature on the topic discusses these questions sometimes within the broad framework of general international law and sometimes within the specific framework of a branch of international law, such as human rights, refugee and migration, or environmental law. In the latter case, which specific framework is used depends on the background and perspective of the author. Human rights lawyers, refugee and migration lawyers and environmental lawyers all take a different approach, so that interaction between the different approaches, especially between...
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