This paper analyzes the application of rights-based approaches to disaster displacement in the Asia-Pacific region in order to assess whether the current framework is sufficient to protect the rights of internally displaced persons. It identifies that disaster-induced displacement is increasingly prevalent in the region and that economic and social conditions in many countries mean that the impact of displacement is often prolonged and more severe. The paper identifies the relevant human rights principles which apply in the context of disaster-induced displacement and examines their implementation in a number of soft-law instruments. While it identifies shortcomings in implementation and enforcement, the paper concludes that a rights-based approach could be enhanced by greater engagement with existing human rights treaties and greater implementation of soft-law principles, and that no new instrument is required.
Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Australia.
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Australia. The authors wish to acknowledge the research assistance of Gail Shearer and thank an anonymous reviewer for the very helpful comments on a previous draft. All remaining errors or inadequacies are our own.
1. WISNER, Ben, BLAIKIE, Piers, CANNON, Terry, and DAVIS, Ian, eds., At Risk: Natural Hazards, People’s Vulnerability and Disasters, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2004) at chapter 2.
2. HARVARD, Brooke, “Seeking Protection: Recognition of Environmentally Displaced Persons Under International Human Rights Law” (2007) 18 Villanova Environmental Law Journal 65.
3. KIRSCH-WOOD, Jenty, KORREBORG, Jacob, and LINDE, Anne-Marie, “What Humanitarians Need to Do” (2008) 31 Forced Migration Review 40.
4. In the disaster response context, it has been acknowledged that it is unhelpful to focus on the cause of the disaster as the basis for determining protection mechanisms (e.g. by classifying the displacement as arising from a climate-related event). The summary document from the Nansen Initiative states: “from a protection perspective it makes little sense to distinguish between displacement caused by non-climate related (i.e., volcanic eruption) and by climate-related hazard (storm/flood)” all displaced victims regardless of the cause are in need of assistance. See Norwegian Refugee Council, “The Nansen Conference: Climate Change and Displacement in the 21st Century” (June 2011), online: UNHCR <http://www.unhcr.org/4ea969729.pdf> at 14. It is also generally recognized that there are often multiple causal factors that drive migration, particularly when examining migration in the climate context. See GOGARTY, Brendan, “Climate Change Displacement: Current Legal Solutions to Future Global Problems” (2011) 21 Journal of Law, Information & Science 167; and KOLMANNSKOG, Vikram and TREBBI, Lisetta, “Climate Change, Natural Disasters and Displacement: A Multi-track Approach to Filling Protection Gaps” (2010) 92 International Review of the Red Cross 713.
5. Under the definition of “refugee” in the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 28 July 1951, 189 U.N.T.S 137 (entered into force 22 April 1954).
6. Much consideration has been given to the issue of climate driven displacement and movement beyond state borders. This literature also has relevance when considering internal displacement arising from disasters. See e.g. MCADAM, Jane, Climate Change, Forced Migration, and International Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); MCADAM, Jane, ed., Climate Change and Displacement: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (Oxford: Hart Publishers, 2012); BARNETT, Jon and O’NEILL, Saffron, “Islands, Resettlement and Adaptation” (2012) 2 Nature Climate Change 167; JOHNSON, Craig A., “Governing Climate Displacement: The Ethics and Politics of Human Resettlement” (2012) 12 Environmental Politics 308; MORTREUX, Colette and BARNETT, Jon, “Climate Change, Migration and Adaptation in Funafuti, Tuvalu” (2009) 19 Global Environmental Change 105; BIERMANN, Frank and BOAS, Ingrid, “Preparing for a Warmer World: Towards a Global Governance System to Protect Climate Refugees” (2010) 10 Global Environmental Politics 60.
7. Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN Economic and Social Council, 54th session, Agenda Item 9(d), UN Doc E/CN.4/1998/53/Add.2 (11 February 1998) [Guiding Principles].
8. Guiding Principles, supra note 7 at Introduction, para. 2.
9. McAdam, , supra note 6, Climate Change, Forced Migration, and International Law at 8.
10. Draft Articles on the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters, United Nations International Law Commission, provisionally adopted so far by the Commission, UN General Assembly Official Records, 68th session, Supplement No.10 (A68/10) at art. 8 [ILC Draft Articles].
11. HEATH, J. Benton, “Disasters, Relief and Neglect: The Duty to Accept Humanitarian Assistance and the Work of the International Law Commission” (2010) 43 New York University Journal of International Law and Politics 419.
12. ILC Draft Articles, supra note 10 at art. 9.
13. Ibid., at art. 10.
14. There are various definitions of the Asia-Pacific region. This paper adopts the definition used by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), which includes all Asian countries as well as those located in the Pacific Ocean. The Asia-Pacific region includes fifty Member States of the United Nations. These are Afghanistan, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, the Cook Islands, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, Niue, New Zealand, Pakistan, Palau, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Samoa, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Vietnam. It also includes two non-Member States, the Cook Islands and Niue, which are in free association with New Zealand. In addition to these states within the region there are a number of other territories which belong to states such as New Zealand (Tokelau), Australia (the Norfolk Islands), France (French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Wallis and Futuna Islands), China (Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan), and the United States of America (American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands).
15. ILC Draft Articles, supra note 10 at art. 3.
16. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), “Reducing Vulnerability and Exposure to Disasters: Asia Pacific Disaster Report 2012” (2012), online: UNESCAP <http://www.unescap.org/idd/pubs/Asia-Pacific-Disaster-Report-2012.pdf>.
19. ZETTER, Roger and DEIKUN, George, “Meeting Humanitarian Challenges in Urban Areas” (2010) 34 Forced Migration Review 5.
20. The particular challenges associated with protecting the rights of those in urban areas has been recognized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which has created a “Policy on Refugee Protection and Solutions in Urban Areas” (September 2009), online: UNHCR <http://www.refworld.org/docid/4ab8e7f72.html>.
21. Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre and Norwegian Refugee Council, “Global Estimate 2014: People Displaced by Disasters” (September 2014), online: IDMC <http://www.internal-displacement.org/publications/2014/global-estimates-2014-people-displaced-by-disasters> at 26.
22. Ibid., at 10 and 25.
23. Inter-Agency Standing Committee, “IASC Operational Guidelines on the Protection of Persons in Situations of Natural Disasters” (January 2011), online: OHCHR <http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/IDPersons/OperationalGuidelines_IDP.pdf> at 2 [IASC Guidelines].
24. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, The State of the World’s Refugees 2006: Human Displacement in the New Millennium (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).
25. ADELMAN, Howard, “Protracted Displacement” in Howard ADELMAN, ed., Protracted Displacement in Asia: No Place to Call Home (Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2008), at 1.
26. Protracted Refugee Situations, Executive Committee of the High Commissioners Programme, Standing Committee 30th Meeting, EC/54/SC/CRP.14 (10 June 2004) at 4.
28. IASC Guidelines, supra note 23.
29. Michael G. SMITH, “Better Approaches to Protracted Displacement?” in Adelman, supra note 25 at 211.
30. See supra note 21 at 14.
31. IASC Guidelines, supra note 23 at 56.
32. See supra note 21 at 14.
34. Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, “Philippines: Comprehensive Response to Wave of Displacement Crises Needed” (9 December 2013), online: IDMC <http://www.internal-displacement.org/south-and-south-east-asia/philippines/2013/comprehensive-response-to-wave-of-displacement-crises-needed/>.
35. “Infographic: Typhoon Haiyan Aftermath - ADB’s Response” Asian Development Bank (19 December 2013), online: Asian Development Bank <http://www.adb.org/th/node/42645>.
36. “Australia Tops Donor Countries for Super Typhoon Haiyan Victims” Digital Journal (15 November 2013), online: Digital Journal <http://digitaljournal.com/article/362146>.
37. It is estimated that two million people have fled Syria: see UNHCR, “Syrian Regional Refugee Response” (5 July 2015), online: UNHCR <http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php>; and 1.5 million are displaced within Syria: see Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, “IDMC: Syria” (July 2015), online: IDMC <http://www.internal-displacement.org/middle-east-and-north-africa/syria>; and the UN reports 6.5 million Syrians are internally displaced. There is a funding crisis and lack of assistance to support these people: see UNOCHA, “Syria Crisis Humanitarian Response (SHARP and RRP) 2014” (19 December 2013), online: UNOCHA <http://www.unocha.org/cap/appeals/syria-crisis-humanitarian-response-sharp-and-rrp-2014>.
38. Guiding Principles, supra note 7.
39. HOLMES, John, “Foreword” (2008) 1 Forced Migration Review Special Edition 1 at 3; COHEN, Roberta and DENG, Francis M., “The Genesis and the Challenges” (2008) 1 Forced Migration Review Special Edition 1 at 4.
40. Cohen and Deng, supra note 39.
41. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 16 December 1966, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, 6 I.L.M 368 (entered into force 23 March 1976) [ICCPR].
42. International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, 16 December 1966, 993 U.N.T.S. 3 (entered into force 3 January 1976) [ICESCR].
43. Convention on the Rights of the Child, 20 November 1989, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3 (entered into force 2 September 1990) [CRC].
44. Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, 18 December 1989, GA Res 34/180, UN Doc. A/34/46 (entered into force 3 September 1981) [CEDAW].
45. Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 21 December 1965, GA Res. 2106 (XX), Annex, 20 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 14) at 47, U.N. Doc. A/6014 (1966), 660 U.N.T.S. 195 (entered into force 4 January 1969) [CERD].
46. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 13 December 2006, 2515 U.N.T.S. 3 (entered into force 3 May 2008) [CRPD].
47. Guiding Principles, supra note 7 at Guiding Principle 5; Walter KÄLIN, “Protection of Internally Displaced Persons in Situations of Natural Disaster: A Working Visit to Asia” Brookings Institution (April 2005), online: Brookings Institution <http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2005/04/tsunami> at 11.
48. Heath, supra note 11; Hope LEWIS, “Human Rights and Natural Disaster: The Indian Ocean Tsunami” (2006) 33 Human Rights 12.
49. ICESCR, supra note 42 at art. 11; CEDAW, supra note 44 at art.14; CRC, supra note 43 at art. 24; CRPD, supra note 46 at art. 28; Guiding Principles, supra note 7 at Guiding Principle 18.
50. ICESCR, supra note 42 at art. 6; Lewis, supra note 48.
51. ICCPR, supra note 41 at art. 11; CRC, supra note 43 at art. 27; CRPD, supra note 46 at art. 28; CEDAW, supra note 44 at art. 14; CERD, supra note 45 at art. 5; Guiding Principles, supra note 7 at Guiding Principles 7 and 18; Rebecca BARBER, “The Responsibility to Protect the Survivors of Natural Disaster: Cyclone Nargis, a Case Study” (2009) 14 Journal of Conflict & Security Law 3; Lewis, supra note 48.
52. Guiding Principles, supra note 7 at Guiding Principle 18.
53. ICESCR, supra note 42 at art. 12; CEDAW, supra note 44 at art. 12; CRC, supra note 43 at art. 24; CERD, supra note 45 at art. 5; CRPD, supra note 46 at art. 25; Guiding Principles, supra note 7 at Guiding Principles 18–19.
54. ICCPR, supra note 41 at art. 9; CRPD, supra note 46 at art. 14; CERD, supra note 45 at art. 5.
55. ICCPR, supra note 41 at art. 12; CEDAW, supra note 44 at art 15; CERD, supra note 45 at art. 5; CRPD, supra note 46 at art. 18.
56. Guiding Principles, supra note 7 at Guiding Principles 6–7.
57. Ibid., at Guiding Principle 14.
58. Ibid., at Guiding Principle 28.
59. ICCPR, supra note 41 at art. 9.
60. Kälin, supra note 47 at 17–18.
61. Guiding Principles, supra note 7 at Guiding Principle 21.
62. Kälin, supra note 47 at 24.
63. Ibid., at 18.
64. Guiding Principles, supra note 7 at Guiding Principle 17.
65. Kälin, supra note 47 at 19.
66. ICESCR, supra note 42 at art. 10; Guiding Principles, supra note 7 at Guiding Principle 23.
67. Kälin, supra note 47 at 19.
68. ICCPR, supra note 41 at art. 19; Guiding Principles, supra note 7 at Guiding Principle 18.
69. ICCPR, supra note 41 at art. 25; Guiding Principles, supra note 7 at Guiding Principle 22.
70. Guiding Principles, supra note 7 at Guiding Principle 28; Lewis, supra note 48.
71. ICCPR, supra note 41 at arts. 2 and 4; CEDAW, supra note 44; CERD, supra note 45; CRPD, supra note 46.
72. IASC Guidelines, supra note 23 at 11; Lewis, supra note 48.
73. ICCPR, supra note 41 at art. 4.
74. Guiding Principles, supra note 7 at Guiding Principles 4 and 18; Kälin, supra note 47 at 14.
75. Kälin, supra note 47 at 14.
76. STEINER, Henry J., ALSTON, Philip, GOODMAN, and Ryan, eds., International Human Rights Law in Context: Law, Politics, Morals, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) at 185–189; Lewis, supra note 48.
77. Strengthening of the Coordination of Humanitarian Emergency Assistance of the United Nations, GA Res 46/182, UN GAOR, 78th Plenary Meeting, 19 December 1991, UN Doc.A/RES/46/182.
78. Heath, supra note 11.
79. See e.g. ICCPR, supra note 41; CERD, supra note 45; ICESCR, supra note 42; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 10 December 1984, 1465 U.N.T.S. 85 (entered into force 26 June 1987) [CAT].
80. Fifth Assessment Report of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” (March 2014), online: IPCC <http://ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5/images/uploads/WGIIAR5-Chap24_FGDall.pdf> at chapter 24.
81. “Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance” United Nations, online: United Nations <http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/humanitarian/>.
82. MILLER, Ben, “The International Disaster Response Program: Consent, Coordination, and Contingency Planning in Disaster Relief Operations” (2012) 44 George Washington International Law Review 80; and REINECKE, Isabelle, “International Disaster Response Law and the Coordination of International Organisations” (2010) 2 ANU Undergraduate Research Journal 143.
83. ILC Draft Articles, supra note 10 at art. 5.
84. FIDLER, David P., “Disaster Relief and Governance after the Indian Ocean Tsunami: What Role for International Law?” (2005) 6 Melbourne Journal of International Law 458.
85. SHAFFER, Gregory and POLLACK, Mark A., “Hard vs. Soft Law: Alternatives, Complements, and Antagonists in International Governance” (2010) 94 Minnesota Law Review 706 at 719.
86. It is beyond the scope of this paper to outline all disaster response frameworks. For a more in-depth analysis of the regulation in this area, see CARON, David, KELLY, Michael J., TELESETSKY, and Anastasia, eds., The International Law of Disaster Relief (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014).
87. IASC Guidelines, supra note 23.
88. Guidelines for the Domestic Facilitation and Regulation of International Disaster Relief and Initial Recovery Assistance, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (30 November 2007) [IDRL Guidelines].
89. ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (26 July 2005) [ASEAN Agreement].
90. Human Rights and Natural Disasters: Operational Guidelines and Field Manual on Human Rights Protection in Situations of Natural Disaster, Inter-Agency Standing Committee (March 2008) [IASC Manual].
91. McAdam, supra note 6, Climate Change, Forced Migration and International Law at 243.
92. IASC Manual, supra note 90 at 2.
93. IASC Guidelines, supra note 23 at 10.
94. Ibid., at art. 1.6
95. Ibid., at A.4.1.
96. Ibid., at A.4.5.
97. Ibid., at B.1.3.
98. Ibid., at D.2.2.
99. Ibid., at D.2.3.
100. Strengthening the Effectiveness and Coordination of International Urban Search and Rescue Assistance, GA Res 57/150, UN Doc. A/RES/57/150 (2002) which reaffirms Resolution 46/182 of 1991; Measures to Expedite International Relief of 1977; Hyogo Framework for Action of 2005.
101. IDRL Guidelines, supra note 88 at 12–14.
102. Ibid., at 4–5.
104. Ibid., at 4(a).
105. ASEAN, Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (24 February 1976), online: ASEAN <http://www.asean.org/news/item/treaty-of-amity-and-cooperation-in-southeast-asia-indonesia-24-february-1976-3> [Treaty of Amity and Cooperation].
106. COHEN, Roberta and BRADLEY, Megan, “Disasters and Displacement: Gaps in Protection” (2010) 1 International Humanitarian Legal Studies 95 at 136.
107. FLETCHER, Laurel E., STOVER, Eric, and Harvey M. WEINSTEIN, eds., After the Tsunami: Human Rights of Vulnerable Populations (Berkeley, CA: Human Rights Center, University of California; Honolulu: East-West Center, 2005).
109. Ibid., at 97.
110. Ibid., at 93.
111. Ibid., at 94.
115. Ibid., at 93.
116. Ibid., at 96.
117. Ibid., at 95–6.
119. Barber, supra note 51 at 4.
120. “Let Cyclone Aid in ‘Without Hindrance’: UN Chief to Burma Leaders” CBC News (9 May 2008), online: CBC News <http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/let-cyclone-aid-in-without-hindrance-un-chief-to-burma-leaders-1.753901>.
121. “France Angered by Burmese Delays” BBC News (17 May 2008), online: BBC News <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7405998.stm>.
122. EBURN, Michael, “International Law and Disaster Response” (2010) 36 Monash University Law Review 162; Lewis, supra note 48; JACKSON, Tahmika Ruth, “Bullets for Beans: Humanitarian Intervention and the Responsibility to Protect in Natural Disasters” (2010) 59 Naval Law Review 1.
123. Heath, supra note 11—duty to accept assistance; Guiding Principles, supra note 7 at Guiding Principle 25.
124. Barber, supra note 51 at 4; Gareth EVANS, “Facing Up to Our Responsibilities” The Guardian (12 May 2008), online: The Guardian <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/may/12/facinguptoourresponsbilities>.
125. International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS); Heath, supra note 11; ALLAN, Craig and O’DONNELL, Thérèse, “A Call to Alms? Natural Disasters, R2P, Duties of Cooperation and Uncharted Consequences” (2012) 17 Journal of Conflict & Security Law 337; MARTIN, Stevie, “Sovereignty and the Responsibility to Protect: Mutually Exclusive or Codependent?” (2011) 20 Griffith Law Review 153; MOONEY, Erin, “The Guiding Principles and the Responsibility to Protect” (2008) 1 Forced Migration Review Special Edition 1 at 11–12.
126. Charter of the United Nations, 26 June 1945, 59 Stat. 1031 (entered into force 24 October 1945) at chapter VII.
127. Barber, supra note 51 at 4; SAECHAO, Tyra Ruth, “Natural Disasters and the Responsibility to Protect: From Chaos to Clarity” (2007) 32 Brooklyn Journal of International Law 663.
128. Cohen and Deng, supra note 39 at 4; Mooney, supra note 125 at 12.
129. Guiding Principles, supra note 7 at 3 and 25.
130. Mooney, supra note 125 at 13.
131. Ramesh THAKUR, “Applying the UN Responsibility-to-Protect Doctrine too Broadly to Natural Disasters Could Do More Harm than Good” Yale Global Online (19 May 2008), online: Yale Global Online <http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/crisis-and-response-–-part-i> in Mooney, supra note 125 at 13.
132. Eburn, supra note 122; and Miller, supra note 82.
* Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Australia.
** Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Australia. The authors wish to acknowledge the research assistance of Gail Shearer and thank an anonymous reviewer for the very helpful comments on a previous draft. All remaining errors or inadequacies are our own.
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