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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: January 2020

3 - Jurisprudence on the Determination of Refugee Status in the Context of ‘Natural’ Disasters and Climate Change


This chapter presents the results of a review of jurisprudence relating to refugee status determination in the context of disasters and climate change. A taxonomy of the kinds of circumstances in which a person may establish a well-founded fear of being persecuted for a Convention reason is constructed and relevant cases described. The chapter identifies a number of cases where individuals were recognised as being eligible for refugee status in the context of disasters and climate change. It notes that cases in which disasters and climate change form the backdrop to familiar examples of intentional infliction of harm for a Convention reason were far more successful than cases reflecting other failures of state protection. Significant attention is paid to jurisprudence from the New Zealand Immigration and Protection Tribunal owing to the clear and principled human rights-based methodology it articulates. However, limitations in the human rights-based approach are identified, and these limitations are examined closely in subsequent chapters.