Restoring and Extending Protections in the United States for Displaced Persons Impacted by Climate Change
Submission by Human Rights First to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change pursuant to Human Rights Council Resolution 43/6
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 seeking humanitarian protections in the United States. Human Rights First acknowledges the importance of providing support that prioritizes the agency of climate-impacted people, ensures their dignity, and provides redress for loss and damage—including many who will not migrate across borders. While the United States and other countries should take additional actions to protect the rights of people who suffer loss and damage due to climate change, this submission focuses on the need for legal migration processes for people affected by climate change who are forced to migrate.
Providing legal 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 enabling people who are forced to cross borders to find refuge and respect for their fundamental rights. 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, governments, including the United States, eliminate illegal asylum pushback policies and ensure access to asylum at borders, and implement complementary protection processes in order to provide rights-respecting, durable solutions for climate-displaced people.