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 9: International climate change law perspectives

Maxine Burkett


The law on climate-related migration and displacement is notable for its paucity. Despite the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) early and repeated statements regarding climate-change impacts on human migration, once qualifying it as the ‘greatest single impact of climate change’, the last quarter century of climate-change law- and policy-making has not fostered robust governance of the emerging phenomenon. In fact, it was not until two decades after the IPCC’s initial statement that the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change addressed this kind of migration formally in its Cancún Decision. While most of the climate-induced migration and displacement forecasted will spur internal displacement, cross-border migration presents some of the most confounding challenges for migration and displacement management. This chapter presents the international law related to cross-border migration—and to a lesser extent internal displacement—as it currently stands.

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