Population growth, urbanization, and environmental degradation have led to the exposure of a rising number of people to disaster risk, with statistics showing a steep rise in the number of disasters caused by natural hazards in recent decades. These numbers are likely compounded by the effects of a changing climate that is already increasing and predicted to increase even more the frequency and ferocity of a number of natural hazards. Both increasing disaster risk and the growing number of actual disasters are leading authorities and the international community to consider the planned relocation of people at risk from unsafe areas as a strategy to reduce loss of life and injury from those hazards. At the same time, many communities are reaching the same conclusion as they contemplate moving to safer areas.
An interdisciplinary expert meeting in Washington D.C. in February 2015 defined planned relocation as follows: “planned relocation is a process in which persons or groups of persons move or are moved away from their homes, settled in a new location, and provided with the conditions for rebuilding their lives. Planned relocation is carried out under the jurisdiction of the state, takes place within national borders, and is undertaken in order to mitigate risk and impacts related to disasters, including the effects of climate change.”
This paper provides an overview of the literature on case studies on planned relocations. For that purpose, it reviews 38 documents, which present case studies on planned relocations. The main focus of the study lies on case studies focusing on the first and second category of relocations introduced above, which this paper will call anticipatory and reactive relocations. The paper provides an overview of the literature, discusses trends that can be extrapolated from that review and identifies possible gaps in the literature. This is followed in part 2 by an annotated bibliography of the 38 documents.
President López Obrador's extension of the term of Supreme Court chief Arturo Zaldívar is part of his strong effort to recentralize power in the Mexican presidency and hollow out the independence and power of other Mexican institutions. His other moves to bend the justice system to his will include a reform that lowered the salary of judges but did not improve the quality of prosecutors and his unwillingness to allow an independent selection of the attorney general, with López Obrador himself retaining the power of appointment. His latest move with the two-year extension of Zaldívar’s term is especially worrisome. Zaldívar is also the president of the powerful Federal Judiciary Council. The council appoints and dismisses judges, sets career advancement rules and disciplines judges. Zaldívar will be setting the council’s and, thus, the whole judiciary’s, agenda and priorities for two years. This allows López Obrador to influence how courts will rule in cases regarding the executive branch, what cases they take up and the legality of new policies. These moves are taking place when the effectiveness of the judiciary in Mexico remains limited and deeply concerning. The attorney general’s office has proven weak, unwilling to take up key cases such as against the suspects in the brazen attack on Mexico City’s security minister, Omar García Harfuch—an event that symbolized the impunity with which Mexican criminal groups operate. Mexico’s justice system showed itself equally meek and disappointing in inadequately investigating the alleged complicity of former Mexican Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos and dismissing the case, potentially the most significant case of corruption and criminal collusion charges against a high-ranking Mexican official in two decades. A decade and a half after Mexico initiated its justice system reforms, 95 percent of federal cases still go unpunished. President López Obrador has scored some points, but the already precariously weak rule of law in Mexico, and thus the Mexican people, will suffer.