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Climate-related migration and the need for new normative and institutional frameworks

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ClimMig Conference 20-21 September

Conference on Human Rights, Environmental Change, Migration and Displacement

Vienna, 20/21 September 2012


The discussion on the rights of so-called “environmental migrants/refugees” has often focused exclusively on their (lack of) legal status. Though this issue remains of high importance, migration and displacement associated with environmental change raises a whole range of human rights issues that have often been neglected: Human rights challenges arise pre- and post-displacement both in the country of origin and in the country of destination, as well as in the context of relocations. However, human rights are also at stake long before displacement becomes inevitable – e.g. in the context of adaptation measures including “migration as adaptation”. Finally, human rights of persons staying behind are often overlooked.

This conference aimed at encompassing the diversity of human rights challenges and at embracing different perspectives on how to deal with them. In this context, special emphasis was put on the (potential) role of the European Union. Furthermore, the conference wanted to shed light on the added value of human rights in the context of displacement and migration associated with environmental change. The conference discussed human rights challenges from a theoretical and legal, but also from a practical perspective, and therefore welcomed presentations highlighting local experiences, policies and initiatives. The global level was also addressed: following the aborted launch of the Nansen Principles, the question arose whether there was any room left for new frameworks and international arrangements.

The conference took place in the context of the ClimMig project, a research project funded by the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund. The project was presented during this event. The conference brought together human rights lawyers, experts, social scientists from diverse disciplines but also practitioners and policy makers.

The conference was held in Vienna/Austria and included plenary and panel sessions. In connection with the conference, a call for papers and posters was issued. About 20 participants were selected to present their papers during the panel sessions. In addition, a poster session was organised.

Venue: Sensengasse 3, 1090 Vienna, Austria (rooms of the Austrian Research Foundation for International Development (ÖFSE)).

Conference Agenda

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Keynote speeches:

Walter Kälin “The Nansen Principles: The way ahead”

Jane McAdam “Legal Solutions: If a treaty is not the answer, then what is it?”

Roger Zetter “The local dimension of international legal and normative frameworks: how it works on the ground”

Panel I: Right to Food (Security), Water, Health, and Land

Chair: Michael Frahm

Tori Timms (Environmental Justice Foundation): The human cost of adaptation and mitigation failures
> Paper: Tori Timms

Jeanette Schade (University of Bielefeld, COMCAD): Human rights, climate change and climate policies in Kenya: The case of Tana Delta
The presentation was based on the following study: Jeanette Schade (2011): Human rights, climate change, and climate policies in Kenya.How climate variability and agrofuel expansion impact on the enjoyment of human rights in the Tana Delta; Research Mission Report of a joint effort by Bielefeld University, FIAN Germany, KYF, and CEMIRIDE.
> Final Study: http://www.uni-bielefeld.de/tdrc/ag_comcad/downloads/final_study_ifa.pdf

Claire Debucquois (University of Louvain): Land investment in the South: a rights-based approach
> Note: Paper will serve as a draft for an entry Claire Debucquois is co-authoring in a forthcoming encyclopedia: C. Debucquois & N. Lambek, “Access to land and the right to food”, in Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics (P. B. Thompson and D. M. Kaplan, eds.), Springer (forthcoming).
> Abstract

Tania Berger (Danube University Krems): Urban growth, climate change and vulnerability
> Paper: Tania Berger

Panel II: Civil and Political Rights

Chair: Roger Zetter

Maja Bahor, Andrej A. Lukši? (University of Ljubljana): Green citizenship in the light of environmental migrations
> Paper: Luksic & Bahor

Fabian Schuppert (University of Zürich, ETH): Governing climate refugees: Self-determination and finding new territory
> Abstract

Panel III: Resettlement Schemes and Right to Return

Chair: François Gemenne

Michelle Leighton, “Population displacement, relocation and migration”, in Michael B. Gerrard and Katrina Fischer Kuh (eds) “The law of adaptation to climate change : US and international aspects”, American bar Association, Sept. 2012, 928 p. ISBN 978-1-61438-696-4,
Chapter available here

Nicole de Moor (University of Ghent): Returning to a destructed environment: on the right and duty to return
> Paper: Nicole de Moor

Mariya Gromilova (Tilburg University): Right to development of people:  is migration a fair adaptation strategy from a human rights perspective?
> Abstract

Panel IV: Legal Protection, Chair: Walter Kälin

Marion Noack (ICMPD): “Climate Refugees”: Legal and Policy Responses to Environmentally Induced Migration
> Paper:  Albert Kraler, Marion Noack, Tatiana Cernei

Emilie Kuijt (University of Leiden): Protecting Environmentally Displaced Persons: A Human Right to Humanitarian Assistance in the Aftermath of Natural Disasters?
> Abstract

Calum TM Nicholson (University of Swansea): The environmental change, migration and displacement debate: distinguishing analytic and normative frameworks and gaining critical distance
> Abstract

Panel V: Legal Protection – Case Studies, Chair: Jane McAdam

Sarah Nash (University of Glasgow): Forced migration norms in the context of climate change: a case study of Somalia
> Paper: Sarah Nash

Alice Baillat (Sciences Po, CERI): A Critical Analysis of Security-Based Discourses on Climate-Induced Migration in Bangladesh: The Silent on Human Rights
> Abstract

Johannes Herbeck/Silja Klepp (University of Bremen): Negotiating Climate Change and Migration in the European Union and the Pacific
> Abstract

Michele Manocchi (University of Turin): From “real story” to “right story”: when one’s own story must be silenced
> Paper: Michele Manocchi

Panel VI: Climate Justice, Chair: Monika Mayrhofer

Teresa Thorp (Utrecht University): Constitutionalism of Climate Justice: Towards An International Legal Framework for Responding to Climate Induced Migration and Displacement
> Presentation: Theresa Thorp

Ritumbra Manuvie (University of Edinburgh): Climate Change and Human Rights: Role of Courts in the event of climate change
> Abstract

Rosa Enn (University of Vienna): The chance for Environmental Justice for the Indigenous Dao?
> Paper: Rosa Enn