Seeking Climate Change Refugee Status

A question was posted on the Forced Migration Current Awareness blog about whether or not this report in the Huffington Post referenced the first time that someone has applied for asylum using climate change as the basis for their claim.  Jane McAdam, an international law expert at the University of New South Wales, Australia, very kindly provided a response. She wrote to say that her book, Climate Change, Forced Migration, and International Law (Oxford Univ. Press, 2012), references other refugee cases that have involved climate change claims. In her chapter on “The Relevance of International Refugee Law,” she notes that previous claimants have mainly come from Tuvalu, Kiribati, and Tonga and have attempted to seek protection in Australia and New Zealand (p. 47). She goes on to list the various decisions that have been issued by the NZ Refugee Status Appeals Authority (now the Immigration and Protection Tribunal) and the Australian Refugee Review Tribunal in a footnote on the same page. None have been positive.

A list of climate change-related cases is also provided in an earlier paper by Jane, entitled “Climate Change Displacement and International Law: Complementary Protection Standards.”


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