Climate Change, Disasters, and the Refugee Convention

Climate Change, Disasters, and the Refugee Convention

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Climate Change, Disasters, and the Refugee Convention

 

 

Dr Matthew Scott, Head of our People on the Move Thematic Area, has published a monograph examining the application of international refugee law in the context of disasters and climate change. The book, entitled Climate Change, Disasters, and the Refugee Convention, focuses on actual legal cases where individuals have sought recognition of refugee status in situations where they have been, or fear being, adversely affected by cyclones, droughts, floods, earthquakes and other natural hazards. Matthew demonstrates that the legal predicament of people who seek refugee status in this connection has been inconsistently addressed by judicial bodies in leading refugee law jurisdictions, and identifies epistemological as well as doctrinal impediments to a clear and principled application of international refugee law. Arguing that refugee status determination cannot safely be performed without a clear understanding of the relationship between natural hazards and human agency, the book draws insights from disaster anthropology and political ecology that see discrimination as a contributory cause of people’s differential exposure and vulnerability to disaster-related harm. This theoretical framework, combined with insights derived from the review of existing doctrinal and judicial approaches, prompts a critical revision of the dominant human rights-based approach to the refugee definition.