CBC: Does Canada have a ‘moral and legal obligation’ to allow climate migrants?

Recent UN ruling on asylum seekers said governments must take climate crisis into account

Adam Jacobson · CBC News · Posted: Feb 02, 2020 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: February 2

Two boys stand next to their tents at a displacement camp for people affected by intense flooding in Beledweyne, Somalia. (Luis Tato/AFP/Getty Images)

A landmark ruling by the United Nations that could pave the way for future climate migrants may force the Canadian government to rethink its conditions around refugees and asylum seekers. 

On Jan. 20, the UN Human Rights Committee stated governments must now take into account the climate crisis when considering the deportation of asylum seekers.

Currently, there are no specific provisions for people seeking asylum on the grounds of climate change under Canadian immigration and refugee law.

The non-binding UN ruling involves Ioane Teitiota, from the Pacific nation of Kiribati, who brought a case against New Zealand in 2016 after authorities there denied his claim of asylum as a climate refugee.

The UN committee upheld New Zealand’s decision to deport Teitiota, saying he did not face an immediate risk if returned. But it agreed that environmental degradation and climate change are some of the most pressing threats to the right to life.

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