Swimming Against the Tide: Why a Climate Change Displacement Treaty is Not the Answer

22 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2010

See all articles by Jane McAdam

Jane McAdam

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 24, 2010

Abstract

Drawing on field work in Tuvalu, Kiribati and Bangladesh, this article argues that advocacy for a new treaty to address climate-related movement is presently misplaced for a number of reasons. The article does not deny the real impacts that climate change is already having on communities, or that migration is a normal adaptive response to such change. Rather, it queries the utility – and, importantly, the policy consequences – of pinning ‘solutions’ to climate change-related displacement on a multilateral instrument, in light of the likely nature of movement, the desires of communities affected by it, and the fact that a treaty will not, without wide ratification and implementation, ‘solve’ the humanitarian issue. The argument is developed by examining some conceptual and pragmatic difficulties in attempting to construct a refugee-like instrument for people fleeing the effects of climate change, and by critiquing whether there are legal benefits, as opposed to political benefits, to be gained by advocating for such an instrument.

Keywords: Climate Change, Refugees, Climate Change Treaty, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Pacific Islands, Displacement, Forced Migration

Suggested Citation

McAdam, Jane, Swimming Against the Tide: Why a Climate Change Displacement Treaty is Not the Answer (November 24, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1714714 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1714714

Jane McAdam (Contact Author)

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law ( email )

Kensington, New South Wales 2052
Australia

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