27 Wis. Int'l L.J. 607 (2009-2010)
Climate Change, Human Rights, and Forced Migration: Implications for International Law

handle is hein.journals/wisint27 and id is 591 raw text is: CLIMATE CHANGE, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND
FORCED MIGRATION: IMPLICATIONS FOR
INTERNATIONAL LAW*
SUMUDU ATAPATTU**
I. INTRODUCTION
Climate change has been identified as the defining human
development issue of our generation' and possibly the biggest
humanitarian and economic challenge that the developing world will
have to face in the coming decades.2 The Intergovemmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC) recognized unequivocally in its 4th report that
global greenhouse gas emissions due to human activities have
contributed to the warming of the Earth's surface,3 ending years of
debate on whether this is a human-made phenomenon or a natural one.
Consequences of climate change are already visible in the form of erratic
weather events, changes in weather patterns, and changes in the Arctic
* A part of this paper was originally included in the paper Global Climate Change: Can Human
Rights (and human beings) Survive this Onslaught? presented at the international conference on
Law and Society in the 21' Century: Transformations, Resistances, Futures, Berlin, Germany,
July 2007 and published in 20 Col. J. I'nal Env'tal L. & Pol'y 35 (2008). The section on
migration was presented at the roundtable on Climate Change and Human Rights: Mapping the
Overlaps, organized by the International Council on Human Rights Policy, in Geneva, Oct
2007. A revised version of this paper entitled Climate Change, Human Rights and Forced
Migration: Implications for International Law was presented at the Symposium on Global
Climate Change and Sustainable Development: Challenges and Opportunities for International
Law, Wisconsin International Law Journal annual symposium, March 2009. Edited for
publication.
Associate Director, Global Legal Studies Center, University of Wisconsin Law School and Lead
Counsel, Poverty and Human Rights, Center for International Sustainable Development Law,
Montreal, Canada and formerly, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Colombo, Sri
Lanka and consultant, Law & Society Trust, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
U.N. DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME, HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2007/2008, FIGHTING
CLIMATE CHANGE: HUMAN SOLIDARITY IN A DIVIDED WORLD 1 (2007), available at
http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2007-2008.
2 SUDHIR CHELLA RAJAN, BLUE ALERT - CLIMATE MIGRANTS IN SOUTH ASIA: ESTIMATES AND
SOLUTIONS - A REPORT BY GREENPEACE 1 (2008),
http://www.greenpeace.at/uploads/media/blue-alert-report-web.pdf.
3 See INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE 4T REPORT, SUMMARY FOR
POLICYMAKERS      (2007),    available    at     http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-
report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr__spm.pdf.

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