Climate Refugees: Fighting for legal recognition

Climate Refugees: Fighting for legal recognition

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Cornelia Evers started this petition to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and

Climate Change is one of the most pressing issues Humanity is currently facing as it has not only environmental but also political, social and economic effects. However, many effects of Climate Change seem to be out of our reach and are not directly visible. Climate Refugees on the other hand are visible.

A rising number of individuals are forced to leave their traditional habitats following natural devastation such as the sinking of small island states, extreme drought or global warming. Although many Climate Refugees are displaced within their own country, some nations are either not capable of providing the necessary support or are disappearing with the population itself as in the case of sinking islands. The individuals then depend on the grant of asylum and other forms of support provided by other nations.

The first step to advance their cause would be to find a universal definition of the term and a legal basis providing the setting for any action taken by national governments, NGOs or other actors.

The fight for a legal recognition of Climate Refugees is primordial as juridical codification will set an internationally recognised, universal definition of what Climate refugees are.

As of now, Climate Refugees are not included in the definition of the 1951 Refugee Convention and its additional protocols by the UNHCR which is the international key document with regards to the status and rights of Refugees. It is legally binding and has been ratified by 145 nations who have signed to fulfil its obligations. Therefore, we need a universal definition in International Law!

The UNHCR itself acknowledges the climbing number of “cross border displacement in the context of disasters and the effects of Climate Change” and endorses the Nansen Initiative which is led by the Swiss and Norwegian government.

This however isn’t enough to protect the individuals, which are the most vulnerable and who need our help immediately: Climate Refugees


The awareness of the impacts of Climate Change seems to increase with movements as the "Friday's for future" initiative. However, some irreversible effects are already manifesting themselves now and they also will in the future, in which the number of Climate Refugees will most probably rise. That is why we need to be prepared, by setting a legal basis by acting now!

This petition aims at accepting the following defintion:

“Climate Refugees are individuals or groups who, predominantly for reasons of sudden or progressive change in the environment that adversely affects their lives or living conditions, are obliged to leave their habitual homes, or choose to do so, either temporarily or permanently, and who move either within their country or abroad. In coherence with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the spirit of the 1951 Geneva Convention, any individual classified as Climate Refugee in either his native country or another nation has the right to be treated in the same way as any individual who falls under the classical definition of a Refugee in accordance with the 1951 Geneva Convention.”

This definition we would like to see adopted into the Geneva Convention or its additional protocols should encompass the same rights political refugees are granted under the 1951 Convention such as the application of the non-refoulement principle and the insurance to be granted access to humane accommodation, education and liberties they can no longer enjoy in their native environment. This is inherently necessary  in order to adequately face the new threats posed to Humanity by Climate Change and global warming in the context of an evermore globalised world.

 

 

 

 

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At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!