Swimming Against the Tide: Why a Climate Change Displacement Treaty is Not the Answer
22 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2010
Date Written: November 24, 2010
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
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