Gaps in the Protection of those Displaced by Climate Change

Khalid Koser
Khalid Koser Executive Director - Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund

October 31, 2008


The normative framework for people displaced by the effects of climate change inside their own country is better developed than that for people displaced outside their country. Many of the former are IDPs and their protected by human rights law and international humanitarian law as articulated in the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, whereas few of the latter qualify for refugee status and international law does not currently protect their status in other countries.

While a priority is therefore to define the rights of people displaced outside their country by the effects of climate change, the prospect of growing numbers of people displaced internally should also be a catalyst to address gaps and implementation challenges in the normative framework that applies to them. The rights of the majority of the 25 million people already internally displaced by conflict and the many millions more displaced by natural disasters and development projects are currently poorly protected. The effects of climate change will inevitably increase their number and further test protection in law and practice.

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