From the Nansen Initiative to the Platform on Disaster Displacement: Shaping International Approaches to Climate Change, Disasters and Displacement

  • Citation: McAdam, Jane. “From the Nansen Initiative to the Platform on Disaster Displacement : Shaping International Approaches to Climate Change, Disasters and Displacement.” University of New South Wales Law Journal 39, no. 4 (2016): 1518–46.
    • Topics:
    • Transnational Issues
    • Keywords:
    • emigration
    • international law
    • climate change
    • natural disaster
    • displacement

In the past three years, there has been significant progress on both the conceptual and practical dimensions of displacement related to climate change and disasters. In October 2015, 109 states endorsed the Agenda for the Protection of Cross-Border Displaced Persons in the Context of Disasters and Climate Change, providing a toolbox of concrete policy options and proposing a series of recommendations for future work. Important language on human mobility was incorporated in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 and the 2015 Paris Outcome on climate change, and the Nansen Initiative on Disaster-Induced Cross-Border Displacement drafted a guide for member countries of the Regional Conference on Migration to create more harmonised responses to disaster-related movement. The UN Secretary-General’s report for the 19 September 2016 high-level meeting on large movements of refugees and migrants underscored the displacement risks posed by the impacts of disasters and climate change, noting the need for strengthened international cooperation and protection, and more attention to root causes. Meanwhile, a series of court cases in New Zealand began to develop the jurisprudence on the scope of refugee law and human rights law to assist people who do not want to return home because of the long-term impacts of climate change, such as sea-level rise. This article provides the first account and analysis of these developments. It also reflects on the role of international law in such processes, reviewing the capacity of existing legal frameworks to address the needs of people displaced in the context of disasters and climate change, and suggesting ways in which international law might be progressively developed in this area.

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