NGOs Urge Stronger Measures for Protection of Climate Refugees
5 July 2012: Participants in the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)'s Annual Consultations with NGOs have recommended developing stronger national and international frameworks to recognize and assist people displaced by climate change. According to the NGO representatives, in many situations, protection currently is based only on the goodwill of the countries concerned.
At the meeting, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 3-5 July 2012, NGOs specifically recommended that UNHCR work with countries to: support people displaced by climate change; define and identify causes of displacement; allocate resources for studies; integrate women's skills and knowledge in the responses being developed; incorporate disaster risk management into operational responses; collaborate more with other actors including UN agencies and intergovernmental organizations; and propose the appointment of a special rapporteur on this issue.
The recommendations came from a session on climate change exploring the nexus between migration, refugees and climate-induced displacement. The report of the session highlights the insufficiency of current arrangements under the Refugee Convention and suggests that the development of soft law and the Nansen Initiative may be effective strategies towards a better protection framework. The report also says disaster risk reduction strategies are needed, and such strategies have yet to be mainstreamed within UNHCR.
The three-day consultations with the UN, national and international organizations from 83 countries included representatives from 233 NGOs. Other sessions focused on: the use of information in humanitarian responses; litigation, legal representation and advocacy; a framework for establishing and maintaining UNHCR partnerships; and redefining protection for children in emergencies, among others. [Publication: Report on the Annual Consultations with Non-Governmental Organizations] [UNHCR Website]