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Elizabeth Ferris

The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (Guiding Principles), presented to the UN Human Rights Commission in 1998 and endorsed by the Global Summit in 2005, provide a widely-accepted normative framework for protecting the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Given the definition of IDPs used in the Guiding Principles, those displaced by the effects of climate change who remain within the borders of their countries are considered as IDPs and the Guiding Principles are thus applicable to them. After a brief overview of the Guiding Principles, this chapter considers the ways in which they have been used to uphold the rights of those displaced by sudden-onset disasters and then turns to the more difficult issue of their relevance to those displaced by other forms of environmental change associated with climate change. A particularly difficult issue is the case of individuals who leave their communities because of loss of livelihoods due to the effects of climate change. This difficulty stems from the broader question of determining causality – which affects other forms of the climate-change migration nexus as well. While it is argued here that the Guiding Principles are and should be the primary normative framework in upholding the rights of those displaced internally by the effects of climate change, there are two areas where further elaboration is needed in order to apply to the specific characteristics of climate change-induced displacement. First, durable solutions, particularly when return is not an option because of the effects of climate change. Secondly, issues around accountability, given the fact that responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions can be determined. These questions are further discussed in the following sections.

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Jane McAdam and Elizabeth Ferris

Over the past six or so years, a wealth of research has sought to analyse conceptually, and document empirically, the links between climate change and human migration and displacement. However, considerably less attention has been given to planned relocations made necessary by the effects of climate change. This article seeks to contribute to the emerging policy debates over relocation as a form of adaptation to climate change. It begins by examining conceptual issues related to ‘relocation’ in light of existing normative frameworks, before turning to policy challenges about how relocations are—or could be—used in practice. Indeed, the challenges raised by relocation are closely linked to how it is conceptualised, since this impacts on how particular movements are understood, who takes responsibility for them, over what timeframe, and in what manner. Many of the examples are drawn from the Pacific, a region where the impacts of climate change are already being felt and movements are already occurring. In particular, historical cases of relocation in the Pacific, whether for environmental or other reasons, provide insights and analogies that may be useful for contemporary policy deliberations.

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Elizabeth Ferris and Jonas Bergmann

This article explores alternative ways that legal and normative frameworks can be used to uphold the rights of those who are displaced internally or across borders in the context of anthropogenic climate change. In particular, we argue that more efforts should be focused on developing soft law rather than trying to fit those displaced because of the effects of climate change into existing legal frameworks. The present hard law system governing the movement of people is not equipped to handle the complexities of population movements resulting from the effects of climate change, and an adequate transformation of these often static legal regimes is improbable. By contrast, soft law offers a number of advantages particularly well suited to the characteristics of those who move because of the effects of climate change and who currently fall into the gaps between protection frameworks. On the downside, soft law norms are not binding and the multiplicity of such initiatives may contribute to a fragmentation of protection systems, resources and attention. Therefore, the present article concludes by arguing for a two-track approach in which both soft and hard law contributes to the protection of those displaced in the context of climate change. On the one hand, in order to address some of the current protection gaps, existing, emergent and new soft law needs to be used and implemented more thoroughly. At the same time, ways forward also include encouraging the more effective and dynamic implementation of hard law, especially through regionalization, complementary protection and the deployment of some features of emerging climate change regimes.