Climate Change, Displacement and International Disaster Law
A seminar on Climate Change, Displacement and the Law took place in the Camden Court Hotel on Friday 23 February. The seminar examined the relationship between climate change and resulting internal and cross-border displacement of persons. 

This seminar formed part of a collaborative project between the Irish Red Cross Society and the Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights (CCJHR) at University College Cork’s (UCC) School of Law. This project is funded by the Irish Research Council’s New Foundation Award Scheme and over the course of the last year, has brought humanitarian practitioners and academics together to explore avenues of collaboration and to promote increased understanding of the conceptual and operational developments in disaster management and identify required changes to International Disaster Law.

This event focused on reasons behind the movement of people in response to disasters, the impacts of climate change and the implications for humanitarian organisations. The seminar also examined the legal and policy frameworks which exist to support such movement. It featured experts from Trócaire, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). At the seminar, Cliona Sharkey, Policy Advisor for Trócaire, detailed how Trócaire has adapted its policy and agenda to respond to the multiplying issues related to climate change.

Daria Mokhnacheva, Programme Officer for IOM, noted that circa 25 million people are displaced every year as a result of climate change and its effects – which are often worsened by human-made mismanagement such as destruction of ecosystems, coastal erosion and increasing precipitation due to global warming. Daria also called for renewed momentum in creating an international agreement to protect “disaster” or “environment” migrants who are not currently protected under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, due to the lack of recognition of environmental grounds in the text.

Isabelle Granger, Legislative Advocacy Coordinator with the IFRC, highlighted regulatory barriers to disaster response and the work of the IFRC in assisting states to overcome these, using the example of the “no build” zones that were introduced in both the Philippines and Sri Lanka following disasters. Isabelle also explored the option of planned relocation as a tool for disaster preparedness. She noted that such policies are often unwelcome, yet can be considered a tenable option in an area where inhabitants are vulnerable or susceptible to disaster.

At the event, a series of Information Sheets on International Disaster Law were launched. The Information Sheets provide clear, succinct, and up-to-date information in an accessible two-page format on a range of issues central to an exploration of disaster law. The Information Sheets will provide guidance to both practitioners and academics on these highly topical issues. For more information, visit or see our dedicated website: