Research Handbook on Climate Change, Migration and the Law
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Research Handbook on Climate Change, Migration and the Law

Edited by Benoît Mayer and François Crépeau

This comprehensive Research Handbook provides an overview of the debates on how the law does, and could, relate to migration exacerbated by climate change. It contains conceptual chapters on the relationship between climate change, migration and the law, as well as doctrinal and prospective discussions regarding legal developments in different domestic contexts and in international governance.
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Chapter 7: Climate change, human rights and migration: a legal analysis of challenges and opportunities

Siobhán McInerney-Lankford


This chapter investigates the potential relevance of international human rights law to climate change and migration. As Siobhán McInerney-Lankford provocatively suggests, existing international law provides multiple entry-points to respond to the plight of individuals displaced either internally or through international borders as a result of climate change. The principle of equality and non-discrimination is of particular relevance because, in many cases, the populations most affected by climate change – those who have no choice but to migrate – are already populations subject to multiple forms of discrimination. Through the lens of this principle, Siobhán McInerney-Lankford explores the significance of the obligation of States to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of climate migrants, showing that, despite important challenges (e.g. the contested extraterritorial application of human rights), international human rights law does provide at least general principles to inform responses to climate migration and, perhaps, guide further legal developments.

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