Disasters, Displacement and Protection: Challenges, Shortcomings and Ways Forward

  • Megan Bradley
  • Roberta Cohen


Natural disasters have become a primary cause of forced migration, and the effects of climate change are expected to intensify such disasters and accelerate displacement rates in upcoming decades. Yet the conceptual, normative and organisational frameworks underpinning human rights protection for environmentally displaced persons remain underdeveloped. This chapter examines the need for human rights protection for environmental migrants; the challenges to providing this protection; and potential responses. While most persons uprooted by environmental disasters will remain within their own countries, entitled to the protections set out in the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, there is a need for greater clarity regarding the status and protection requirements of those displaced by ‘slow onset’ disasters. But the largest protection gap pertains to environmentally displaced persons who cross international borders. Strengthening protection for those displaced by the effects of climate change must include clarifying and expanding normative and organisational frameworks; crafting comprehensive national protection policies; raising awareness of human rights protection; and pioneering more effective approaches for dealing with states that fail to protect their citizens.


Climate change Displacement Human rights Natural disasters 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brookings-LSE Project on Internal DisplacementBrookings InstitutionWashingtonUSA

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