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Nansen Initiative - May 2013 - Background Paper Pacific Consultation

Nansen Initiative - May 2013 - Background Paper Pacific Consultation

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Published by Seni Nabou
URL: http://www.nanseninitiative.org/sites/default/files/Background%20Papger%20Pacific%20Consultation_1.pdf
URL: http://www.nanseninitiative.org/sites/default/files/Background%20Papger%20Pacific%20Consultation_1.pdf

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Published by: Seni Nabou on May 23, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Background Paper: “Human Mobility,
Natural Disasters and Climate Change in
the Pacific”
Rarotonga, Cook Islands21-24 May 2013
Background Paper: “Human Mobility, Natural Disasters and Climate Change
in the Pacific”
Rarotonga, Cook Islands21-24 May 20132 |Page Final Version 17 May 2013
I. Introduction
Pacific Island countries,
like many small island developing states, face a complex set of issues related tohuman mobility (forced displacement, voluntary migration, and planned relocation) and naturaldisasters.
The Pacific Islands are regularly affected by severe windstorms, cyclones, flooding,earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. Even more important, however, is the threat climatechange impacts such as rising sea levels and increasing sea temperatures pose to Pacific Island countries.Recurrent disasters in the Pacific region increasingly trigger population movements. To date, the Pacifichas not yet experienced a significant level of cross-border displacement due to natural disasters, nordoes the region have a high level of refugee movements. As in other regions of the world, mostdisplacement in the Pacific is internal following sudden-onset disasters, with people generally able toreturn to their homes shortly after the disaster. However, the region has a very high rate of international migration, with people routinely moving from one country to another. Migration abroad,while still mainly economic in character, is increasingly linked to natural disasters and environmentaldegradation. Some governments have also begun to move at risk populations to safer areas within theirown countries not only in the aftermath of volcanic eruptions or tsunamis but also due to the effects of sea level rise and more extreme weather patterns linked to climate change,
and are contemplating theneed to seek alternatives abroad. In this context, human mobility in the Pacific region is expected tosignificantly increase in the coming decades and beyond.While the desire to
remain in one’s country
therefore informs many of the existing policies, some leadersin the Pacific region are convinced that the time has come to prepare for future population movementsby agreeing on measures now that will be necessary to protect the rights and dignity of affected peoplein order to avoid forced displacement or the need for evacuations, and to adequately respond todisplacement when it takes place. Other Pacific leaders are not prepared to discuss migration at thisstage of the negotiations, fearing that it will result in a declaration of failure to engage in meaningfulnegotiations to reach the goal of safeguarding Pacific Islands from climate change.While existing international and national legal regimes respond to some of the protection concernsarising from human mobility within the context of natural disasters, others remain unaddressed. Torespond to these legal gaps, it is necessary to discuss issues such as i) migration as a possible adaptationmeasure to prevent forced displacement; ii) facilitating admissions in the event of cross-borderdisplacement; iii) delineating rights for individuals during their cross-border displacement; iv) developingmechanisms to facilitate return to the country of origin, and v) planned relocation to prevent forceddisplacement or as a durable solution.
 A. Background to the Pacific Regional Consultation
This background paper has been drafted to inform the Nansen Initiative
regional consultation “Human
Mobility, Natural Disasters and Climate Change in the Pac
ific” held from 21
-24 May 2013 on Rarotonga,Cook Islands.
Background Paper: “Human Mobility, Natural Disasters and Climate Change
in the Pacific”
Rarotonga, Cook Islands21-24 May 20133 |Page Final Version 17 May 2013The Nansen Initiative on disaster-induced cross-border displacement is a state-led, bottom-upconsultative process
intended to build consensus on the development of a protection agendaaddressing the needs of people displaced across international borders by natural disasters, includingthose linked to the effects of climate change.To begin the Nansen Initiative process, five regional consultations are planned to take place in thePacific, Central America, East Africa, Southeast Asia and South Asia over the course of 2013-2014. Theseconsultations will bring together representatives from states, international organizations, NGOs, civilsociety, think tanks and others key actors working on issues related to displacement and naturaldisasters, including those in the context of climate change. The outcomes from these consultations willbe compiled in preparation for a global consultative meeting planned for early 2015, whenrepresentatives of interested states and experts from around the world will discuss a potential
‘protection agenda’ for cross
-border displacement in the context of natural disasters. The Initiative doesnot aim at creating new legal standards but its outcomes may be taken up at domestic, regional anduniversal levels and lead to new laws, soft law instruments or binding agreements.The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol are the principalinternational legal documents addressing climate change.
While the original text of the Conventiondoes not mention displacement and migration as possible consequences of climate change, paragraph14(f) of the Cancun Outcome Agreement, adopted by the Conference of the Parties (COP) 16, recognizes
climate change will trigger human mobility and calls for “(m)easures to enhance understanding,
coordination and cooperation with regard to climate change induced displacement, migration andplanned relocation.
Displacement, migration and planned relocation are also recognized within the
Subsidiary Body for Implementation’s (SBI) Work Programme on Loss and Damage.
Within the region, the Pacific Islands Forum
adopted the Niue Declaration on Climate Change in August2008. It affirms
“the importance of retaining the Pacific’s social and cultural identity, and the desire of the Pacific peoples to continue to live in their own countries, where possible.” The M
ember Statescommit to advocating in all international fora the threats climate change pose to Pacific Island Forum
countries’ “territorial integrity and continued existence as viable dynamic communities.” Finally, they“encourage the Pacific’s Development
Partners to increase their technical and financial support for
climate change action on adaptation, mitigation and, if necessary, relocation (…)”.
The Pacific Islands face a number of distinct challenges related to human mobility and natural disastersth
at the Nansen Initiative seeks to address. But the UNFCCC’s categorization of human mobility
(displacement, migration and planned relocation) triggered by climate change is both broader than theNansen Initiative in terms of the types of population movements, and narrower, in terms of the causes of the movement, since the Nansen Initiative addresses
cross-border displacement 
in the context of climatechange, but also
other natural disasters
. However, the UNFCCC’s three broad categories of human
mobility are highly relevant for the Nansen Initiative when examining the different
 phases of cross-border displacement 
: 1) the prevention of displacement, 2) protection during displacement, and 3)finding durable solutions to displacement.

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