Addressing the Human Rights Implications of Climate Change Displacement
Submission by Human Rights First to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Protection of Human Rights in the Context of Climate Change
This document has been produced on the basis of Human Rights First’s experience representing, researching, and advocating for refugees and victims of human rights abuses in need of asylum, resettlement, or other humanitarian protections in the United States. This submission focuses on the significant gaps in U.S. protections and pathways for persons displaced by climate change, the failures to uphold existing asylum protections for refugees who are, in some cases, displaced in part due to climate change, and the need for strengthened and additional safe and regular migration processes and pathways for people affected by climate change who are forced to migrate across borders. This submission does not address the many critical steps that should be taken to protect the human rights of the greater numbers of people who will be internally displaced due to climate change.
Providing solutions for persons displaced by climate-related disasters is crucial to ensuring their safety and dignity, meeting international obligations not to return individuals to serious harm, and ensuring respect for their fundamental human rights when they are forced to cross borders. Human Rights First recommends that, in order to uphold their refugee and human rights commitments under international law and develop collective solutions to climate displacement, states, including the United States, should eliminate illegal pushback policies, ensure access to asylum and other protection at borders, and implement complementary protection processes and safe pathways that provide rights-respecting, durable solutions for climate-displaced people.