Climate Refugee, Protected Person and Complementary Protection Claims Under the Microscope in New Zealand's Immigration and Protection Tribunal
(2014) Australia Environment Review 29(9):270-274
5 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2016
Date Written: November 9, 2014
This article discusses twin decisions delivered concurrently on 4 June 2014 by the New Zealand Immigration and Protection Tribunal (IPT) on appeals against deportation by a family of Tuvaluan nationals relying, in part, on climate change-related hardship. The decisions have attracted widespread attention among the international community. Some media outlets have described the family’s successful bid for residency as representing “the world’s first climate refugees”. The recent AC (Tuvalu) decisions follow closely on AF (Kiribati), another widely reported case involving an unsuccessful claim for refugee and protected person status in New Zealand by a citizen of Kiribati who had also resisted deportation citing climate change-related hardship if required to return to his home country.
The decisions do not, in the author’s view, represent a seismic shift in conceptual or legal analysis of the international status of persons seeking to relocate to other countries for reasons which include hardship or deprivation associated with the impacts of climate change in their place of original residence. However, the decisions are worthy of review and reflection for a number of reasons outlined in the article.
Keywords: climate change, refugee, displacement, New Zealand, Kiribati, Tuvalu
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