Human Mobility and Climate Change

Transitioning from a Rights-based Approach to an Adaptive Approach

in Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies
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Climate change will have distinct impacts on various regions and populations. In this context, human mobility can be an empowered adaptation strategy or an unwelcome necessity for survival with a high human cost. Existing legal frameworks were not created with a view to addressing human mobility in this context; there is presently scarce political will to develop new, bespoke legal mechanisms. The insufficiency of legal frameworks, coupled with increasing recognition that attempts to mitigate global warming will not be sufficient to prevent massive human movements, have driven the development of an adaptive approach. This article explores this development, first analyzing the conceptualization of human mobility in the context of climate change. The shift in focus from a rights-based to an adaptive approach is then discussed through an examination of the underpinnings of each approach. The article concludes with a consideration of the way forward, given the existing political landscape.