UN: "CLIMATE REFUGEES CANNOT BE RETURNED HOME"


21/01/2020




İrem UZUN -TDO- A landmark ruling by the United Nations human rights committee has found that it is unlawful for governments to return people to countries where their lives might be threatened by the climate crisis. The judgment, which is the first of its kind, represents a legal "tipping point" and a moment that "opens the doorway" to future protection claims for people whose lives and wellbeing have been threatened due to global heating, experts say.

The landmark ruling centres on the case of loane Teitiota, whose home - the Pacific Island of Kiribati - is threatened by rising sea levels. Mr. Teitiota applied for protection in New Zealand in 2013. The UN rejected his claim, saying he wasn't in immediate danger, but the wording of its ruling allows others to claim asylum based on climate change. Sending asylum seekers home when their lives are threatened by the climate crisis "may expose individuals to a violation of their rights" - specifically, it said, their right to life.

The UN ruling - which is non-binding - is the clearest warning to countries that they may be breaching a person's human rights if they send them back to a country at immediate risk of climate-related danger. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change previously warned that Kiribati was one of the six Pacific island nations most threatened by rising sea levels. The island, it said, could become uninhabitable by 2050.


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