As impacts of climate change become increasingly imminent and devastating, especially for the world’s most vulnerable communities, climate processes and events have forced certain populations to flee their homes. Climate refugees, also called environmental or climate migrants, describes those displaced by environmental disruption; however, international law has yet to delineate how these individuals fit into current refugee law or other areas of immigration assistance. This paper begins by examining current international refugee law, challenges to seeking asylum, and how this applies, or fails to apply, to climate migrants. I will then explore the burden of proof for the principle of non-refoulement and the difficulty in its application to those displaced by climate change. The United Nations Human Rights decision in the landmark case of Ioane Teitiota v. New Zealand, provides significant insight into the state of climate-caused displacement and highlights future paths in addressing this issue. Ultimately, I will argue that the current administration of international refugee law does not sufficiently accommodate climate migrants, and additional changes and considerations are required to appropriately handle the rapidly growing climate migrant crisis.
Recommended CitationAedan Raleigh, The Refugee Burden of Proof: Legal Gaps and Future Considerations For Climate Migrants, 43 Pace L. Rev. 433 (2023)
Available at: https://digitalcommons.pace.edu/plr/vol43/iss2/6