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 13: Organizational perspectives: International Organization for Migration’s role and perspectives on climate change, migration and the law

Gervais Appave, Alice Sironi, Mariam Traore Chazalnoel, Dina Ionesco and Daria Mokhnacheva


The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been working on migration and displacement in connection with environmental and climatic changes since the early 1990s. It has established a comprehensive programme of work at legal, policy, and operational levels. The extensive and comprehensive nature of IOM’s work on climate and environmental migration and displacement, spanning 25 years, has given IOM a global leading voice on policy and legal questions related to climate migration and displacement. IOM’s three institutional objectives are: (1) to prevent forms of forced migration linked to environmental and climate change; (2) to assist, protect and reduce vulnerabilities of migrants; and (3) to facilitate migration as an adaptation strategy. In carrying out activities aimed at achieving these objectives, the Organization supports both migrants and its Member States facing increasing challenges in developing solutions to climate migration and displacement, including in the search for appropriate legal solutions.The chapter is divided in three main parts, framed by an introduction and a conclusion. It first outlines the current state of discussions on terminology and explains how, in our analysis, they reflect changes in perspective on the protection of climate change migrants. This section also explores the role played by IOM in this debate. The second section analyses the parallel unfolding of the discussions on the legal framework to protect those moving in the context of climate change. It highlights an emerging inclination to focus on ‘soft law’ rather than ‘hard law.’ This has given rise to a number of State-led consensus-building initiatives that IOM has supported together with other partners. The chapter ends by framing IOM’s role and perspectives in responding to, but also in moving beyond, the legal debates around climate migration. It points to some of the recent developments in the Organization’s place and role within the international community, and discusses the impact that these developments may have on the Organization’s work on migration and climate change

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