Climate Migration and Human Rights: Exploration of a Multifaceted Phenomenon from a Human Rights Perspective.
Climate change impels migration, because deteriorating living conditions might force people leave their place of origin. This might be due to sudden natural disasters that destroy settlements and displace people or to more slow onset changes such as harvests that continuously fail due to too much or too little rainfall. Climate change thus pushes internal, cross-border and, at times, even international migration. Some households might move as a whole to a new place, others might send individual household members who are expected to send back remittances. However, mobility needs resources. If climate change deprives people of their assets it therefore might equally lead to the reduction or even extinction of existing migration patterns. Finally, it is not only climate change that interferes with living conditions and migration dynamics, but also climate policy interventions. Mitigation measures to minimize climate change such as agrofuel plantations or reforestation might equally lead to the displacement of people due to forced evictions. Adaptation programmes to climate change might support migration, because they regard remittances an appropriate tool to enable in-situ adaptation at the place of origin; or planned relocation is promoted as a policy intervention to safeguard people from settlements that are prone to natural disasters.
All those different connections between climate change and migration entail impacts on the enjoyment of substantial human rights during different phases. The direct impact of climate change on living conditions often impairs the right to food, to water, and to housing already before any decision about migration is taken. Forced displacement as such, might it be the result of a natural disaster or of a policy intervention, always jeopardizes the enjoyment of human rights in the phase of the displacement itself, but also during the evacuation or the relocation process. Finally, at the place of destination migrants, whether they have moved there on their own or whether they are part of a resettlement scheme, face new situations that can equally impair their human rights. The new environment might not provide for all necessary goods to fulfil basic human rights or the migrants might be discriminated by the original inhabitants or, in case of cross-border migration, also by foreign laws.
To explore the complex relationships between climate migration and human rights this exercise is divided into four blocks. The first block introduces into human rights standards. The second block investigates how the changing climate interacts with migration patterns. The third block looks at policy interventions related to climate change induced displacement. The fourth and last block considers the human rights situation at the places of destination.