The U.S. has an opportunity for a better strategy to address climate displacement
For the first time, Amnesty International USA has published recommendations to the U.S. government on addressing climate displacement through human rights and humanitarian principles. The recommendations come in response to the forthcoming report commissioned by President Biden in his February executive order on planning for the impact of climate change on migration. Amnesty’s recommendations center the human rights framework for addressing climate change and arise from Amnesty International’s forthcoming publication on climate change, “Stop Burning Our Rights! What governments and corporations must do to protect humanity from the climate crisis.”
“Assuming global leadership on climate displacement will not only directly benefit humanity, it will also further the U.S.’s own adaptation and resilience to climate change,” said Denise Bell, the researcher for refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International USA. “The U.S. response to climate displacement will require adaptation in policy and process, but many of the tools are available: enhancing existing protection mechanisms and admission pathways, supporting Congressional initiatives to develop new mechanisms, and providing robust financial support and international cooperation and assistance.”
Amnesty International USA recommends that the Biden administration:
Enhance pathways for admission and protection
- Expand the use of Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure;
- Incorporate UN High Commissioner for Refugees expert guidance on assessing claims in the context of climate change into determinations of eligibility for asylum and refugee status;
- Continue to increase refugee resettlement, including regional resettlement initiatives and the use of private sponsorship;
- Restore and expand access to asylum; and
- Expand the use of alternative pathways.
Ensure the participation of people displaced by climate change
- Ensure the meaningful, effective, and informed participation of impacted persons to participate in national, regional, and international decision-making processes related to climate change displacement; and
- Ensure that measures to address climate change displacement are implemented in a non-discriminatory manner and do not disproportionally impact individuals, groups, and communities who are marginalized or discriminated against.
Strengthen multilateral and regional cooperation
- Implement the recommendations of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Task Force on Displacement;
- Endorse and implement the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration; and
- Ensure the provision of international cooperation and assistance to other countries is not dependent upon efforts to prevent people from migrating.
Reduce the likelihood and extent of climate-related displacement
- Fully implement the U.S.’s human rights obligations to mitigate climate change;
- Fully implement commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the Paris Agreement; and
- Substantially increase funding and support for human rights-consistent climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience initiatives in less wealthy countries.
Provide support to address loss and damage
- Cooperate at the international level to adopt adequate mechanisms and mobilize new and additional finances to provide means, support, and remedy to people and communities who have been displaced or may be relocated as the result of loss and damage caused by the climate crisis in climate-vulnerable developing countries;
- Cooperate to ensure that if permanent planned relocations are necessary as a measure of last resort to protect people from the unavoidable impacts of climate change, the human rights of both the displaced and the host communities are respected, protected, and fulfilled throughout the relocation process; and
- Ensure the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage established at COP26 is fully operationalized.
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