Not Quite Migrant, Not Quite Refugee
Addressing the Protection Gap for Climate-Induced Movement; Conceptualisation, Governance, and the Case of Mr. Ioane Teitota
Keywords:Climate-induced Movement, Climate Justice, International Law, Migration, Refugee
This article argues that climate-induced movement is neither strictly a refugee issue nor a migration issue; and that the current protection gap is linked to the fundamental mischaracterization of the movement under one of these pathways. Terminology plays a crucial role in the protections and pathways for movement that are made available for people. Not quite refugee, not quite migrant, persons undertaking climate-induced movement face a protection limbo; where the eventual need for movement is recognized yet, the movement itself is defined in such a way as to be deemed unnecessary, at least for now. The refugee status case of Mr. Ioane Teitiota, a Kiribati national, is a critical example of this protection limbo. Characterized as voluntary, courts successively held up rulings that the adverse impacts he had attempted to escape were not yet sufficiently dangerous to warrant protection. Was Mr. Teitiota supposed to simply come back later?
Atapattu, Sumudu. 2018. “A New Category of Refugees? ‘Climate Refugees’ and a Gaping Hole in International Law.” In ‘Climate Refugees’: Beyond the Legal Impasse, edited by Simon Behrman and Avidan Kent, 34–51. London: Routledge.
Baker-Jones, Mark, and Melanie Baker-Jones. 2015. “Teitiota v. the Chief Executive of Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment – A Person Displaced.” QUT Law Review 15, no. 2: 102¬¬–121. https://doi.org/10.5204/qutlr.v15i2.640.
Biermann, Frank, and Ingrid Boas. 2010. “Preparing for a Warmer World: Towards a Global Governance System to Protect Climate Refugees.” Global Environmental Politics 10, no. 1: 60–88. https://doi.org/10.1162/glep.2010.10.1.60.
Brown, Oli. 2008. Migration Research Series No.31 – Migration and Climate Change. Geneva, IOM. https://doi.org/10.18356/5ab20a38-en
Curtain, Richard, and Matthew Dornan. 2019. A pressure release valve? Migration and climate change in Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu. Canberra: Development Policy Centre.
Farbotko, Carol, and Heather Lazrus. 2012. “The first climate refugees? Contesting global narratives of climate change in Tuvalu.” Global Environmental Change 22, no. 2: 382–390. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.11.014.
Farquhar, Harriet. 2015. “Migration with Dignity: Towards a New Zealand Response to Climate Change Displacement in the Pacific.” University of Wellington Law Review 49: 29–45. https://doi.org/10.26686/vuwlr.v46i1.4936.
Foresight. 2011. Migration and Global Environmental Change: Final Project Report. London: The Government Office for Science.
Global Humanitarian Forum (GHF). 2009. Human Impact Report: Climate Change – The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis. Geneva: Global Humanitarian Forum.
Hartmann, Betsy. 2010. “Rethinking Climate Refugees and Climate Conflict: Rhetoric, Reality and the Politics of Policy Discourse.” Journal of International Development 22, no. 2: 233–246. https://doi.org/10.1002/jid.1676.
Hugo, Graeme. 1996. “Environmental Concerns and International Migration.” The International Migration Review 30, no. 1: 105–131. https://doi.org/10.2307/2547462.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 2018. Global Warming of 1.5 °C: An IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. Geneva: IPCC.
Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). 2018. No matter of choice: displacement in a changing climate – Research agenda and call for partners. Geneva: IDMC.
International Organisation for Migration (IOM). 2009. Compendium of IOM’s Activities in Migration, Climate Change and the Environment. Geneva: IOM.
International Organisation for Migration (IOM). 2020. World Migration Report 2020. Geneva: IOM.
Ionesco, Dina, Daria Mokhnacheva, and François Gemenne. 2017. The Atlas of Environmental Migration. Geneva. IOM.
Kälin, Walter. 2010. “Conceptualising Climate-Induced Displacement.” In Climate Change and Displacement. Multidisciplinary Perspectives, edited by Jane McAdam, 81–103. Oxford: Hart.
Klepp, Silja. 2017. “Climate Change and Migration.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Climate Science. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228620.013.42.
Klepp, Silja, and Johannes Herbeck. 2016. “The politics of environmental migration and climate justice in the Pacific region.” Journal of Human Rights and the Environment 7, no. 1: 54–73. https://doi.org/10.4337/jhre.2016.01.03.
McAdam, Jane. 2012a. Climate Change, Forced Migration, and International Law. New York: Oxford University Press Inc. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587087.001.0001
McAdam, Jane. 2012b. “The Normative Framework of Climate Change-Related Displacement.” For Addressing the Legal Gaps in Climate Change Migration, Displacement and Resettlement: From Sinking Islands to Flooded Deltas. Washington D. C.: The Brookings Institution.
McAdam, Jane. 2015. “The emerging New Zealand jurisprudence on climate change, disasters and displacement.” Migration Studies 3, no. 1: 131–142. https://doi.org/10.1093/migration/mnu055.
McAdam, Jane. 2016. “The Nansen Initiative to the Platform on Disaster Displacement: Shaping International Approaches to Climate Change, Disasters and Displacement.” UNSW Law Journal 39, no. 4: 1518–1545. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2901910.
McNamara, Karen Elizabeth, and Chris Gibson. 2009. “‘We do not want to leave our land’: Pacific ambassadors at the United Nations resist the category of ‘climate refugees.’” Geoforum 40, no. 3: 475–483. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2009.03.006.
Murty, B. S. (1982). “Socio-legal Research – Hurdles and Pitfalls.” Journal of the Indian Law Institute 24, no. 2/3: 253–258. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43952207.
Ni, Xing-Yin. 2015. “A Nation Going Under: Legal Protection for “Climate Change Refugees.” Boston College International and Comparative Law Review 38, no. 2: 329–366. https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/iclr/vol38/iss2/7.
Nishimura, Lauren. 2018. The slow onset effects of Climate Change and Human Rights Protection for cross-border migrants. Geneva: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
New Zealand Court of Appeal (NZCA 173). 2014. Teitiota v. Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment CA50/2014  NZCA 173 (8 May 2014). New Zealand: New Zealand Court of Appeal.
New Zealand High Court (NZHC 3125). 2013. Teitiota v. Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment  NZHC 3125 (26 November 2013). New Zealand: New Zealand High Court.
New Zealand Immigration and Protection Tribunal (NZIPT 800413). 2013. AF (Kiribati)  NZIPT 800413 (25 June 2013). New Zealand: New Zealand: Immigration and Protection Tribunal.
New Zealand Supreme Court (NZSC 107). 2015. Teitiota v. Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment  NZSC 107 (20 July 2015). New Zealand: New Zealand Supreme Court.
O’Donovan, Darren. 2016. “Socio-Legal Methodology: Conceptual Underpinnings, Justifications and Practical Pitfalls.” In Legal Research Methods: Principles and Practicalities, edited by Laura Cahillane and Jennifer Schweppe, 107–130. Dublin: Clarus Press Ltd.
Oels, Angela. 2012. “From ‘Securitization’ of Climate Change to ‘Climatization’ of the Security Field.” In Climate Change, Human Security and Violent Conflict. Challenges for Societal Stability, edited by Jürgen Scheffran, Michael Brzoska, Hans Günter Brauch, Peter Michael Link, and Janpeter Schilling, 185–207. Heidelberg, Dordrecht, London and New York: Springer.
Olson, M.E. 1979. “Refugees as a Special Case of Population Redistribution.” In Population Redistribution: Patters, Politics and Prospects, edited by L. A. P. Gosling and L. Y. C. Lim, 130–152. New York: United Nations Fund for Population Activities.
Podesta, John. 2019. “The climate crisis, migration and refugees.” For The 16th annual Brookings Blum Roundtable, 2020 and beyond: Maintaining the bipartisan narrative on US global development. Washington D. C.: The Brookings Institution.
United Nations (UN). 2019. Report of the Secretary-General on the 2019 Climate Action Summit and Ways Forward in 2020. New York: The United Nations.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2011. “Key messages: WHO IS A REFUGEE.” In UNHCR Protection Training Manual for European Border and Entry Officials. Geneva: UNHCR. https://www.unhcr.org/uk/4d944d089.pdf.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2015. UNHCR, The environment and climate change, Updated Version. Geneva: UNHCR. https://www.unhcr.org/540854f49.pdf.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR). 2016. “‘Refugees’ and ‘Migrants’ Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).” Accessed September 10, 2020. https://www.unhcr.org/news/latest/2016/3/56e95c676/refugees-migrants-frequently-asked-questions-faqs.html.
How to Cite
Politikon: The IAPSS Journal of Political Science by https://politikon.iapss.org/index.php/politikon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.