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The Longest Now

Identifying refugees
Friday September 02nd 2005, 7:46 pm
Filed under: chain-gang

If you are near a refugee center, or a church or home, (I’m talking to
you, Houston) that has taken in Hurricane Katrina refugees, please help
locate and identify them.  At proper shelters, please check with
the shelter to coordinate with others tracking the refugees in other
ways.  For details on how to help with just a camera and a pencil,
see the latest post from Andy Carvin (permalink)
about locating and identifying Katrina refugees.  I have reformatted and edited it
slightly  here.

So if an island nation is submerged beneath the ocean, does it maintain its membership in the United Nations? Who is responsible for the citizens? Do they travel on its passport? Who claims and enforces offshore mineral and fishing rights in waters around a submerged nation? International law currently has no answers to such questions.

United Nations Ambassador Phillip Muller of the Marshall Islands said there is no sense of urgency to find not only those answers, but also to address the causes of climate change, which many believe to be responsible for rising ocean levels.

“Even if we reach a legal agreement sometime soon, which I don’t think we will, the major players are not in the process,” Muller said.

Those players, the participants said, include industrial nations such as the United States and China that emit the most carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases. Many climate scientists say those gases are responsible for global warming. Mary-Elena Carr of Columbia University’s Earth Institute said what is now an annual sea level rise of a few millimeters will increase dramatically by the year 2100. “The biggest challenge is to preserve their nationality without a territory,” said Bogumil Terminski from Geneva. International legal experts are discovering climate change law, and the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu is a case in point: The Polynesian archipelago is doomed to disappear beneath the ocean. Now lawyers are asking what sort of rights citizens have when their homeland no longer exists.
t present, however, there appear to be at least three possibilities that could advance the international debate about ‘climate refugee’ protections and fill existing gaps in international law.

The first option is to revise the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees to include climate (or environmental) refugees and to offer legal protections similar to those for refugees fleeing political persecution. A second, more ambitious option is to negotiate a completely new convention, one that would try to guarantee specific rights and protections to climate or environmental ‘refugees

Comment by Dorothy Whitman, Orchard Park 12.02.11 @ 11:41 pm

Dorothy, that’s a fine question, one I hadn’t heard before. The same goes for other nations that disappear without replacement; imagine that a small country is caught in the crossfire of a war, and ends up with ruined infrastructure and no active government; but is in a disputed zone. Presumably in both cases nearby nations would be willing to welcome the refugees, but it’s not clear who if anyone would recognize or support their claims to their former land (or water) rights or government-sanctioned possessions… or whether anyone would offer them a new passport rather than treating them as refugees.

Comment by metasj 12.03.11 @ 1:34 am

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