Migration and Human Rights in the Wake of Climate Change

Cosmin Corendea, UNU-EHS

This seminar highlights the main findings of the research project by the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and the AXA Research Fund.

The research explores the connections between the international response to climate change, migration and human rights. Taking the Pacific region as its geographic focus, Fiji and Vanuatu - two of the countries most affected by climate change - serve as case studies to further examine the process of international environmental law implementation in the region. The existence of two legal systems in the Pacific islands - the custom or traditional law originally derived from indigenous communities and the national or state law, introduced by colonial powers - is a potential source of conflicting perspectives that could challenge the implementation of international standards. This report aims to look at these potential discrepancies, identifying gaps and legal risks, and analyzing their impact on human rights, migration and the overall response to climate change.

The findings build on field research conducted in Fiji and Vanuatu, countries chosen due to the similarities of their legal systems. This research comprised a sample of surveys answered by the local population, as well as semi-structured interviews with representatives of the government and international bodies in the region, legal experts and chief police officers.

In light of the findings, this report formulates seven policy recommendations for both the Pacific island states and the international community with which to further advance in successfully addressing climate change and climate induced migration building on custom and state law from a human rights perspective.



About the speaker

Dr. Cosmin Corendea works as Associate Academic Officer/Legal Expert at United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS). He is acting as focal point for legal issues associated with environmental degradation and adverse effects of climate change, such as institutional vulnerabilities and adaptation, climate equity, climate justice, human rights, forced migration, etc., conducting research on conceptual and comparative frameworks of legal perceptions of environmental vulnerabilities, resilience and sustainable development impacts.

Dr. Corendea joined the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) legal team in October 2015 for the CoP 21 to assist with the legal text which became also known as the Paris Agreement.

Dr. Corendea is best known for initiating and developing the concept of ‘international hybrid law’ in 2007 – a legal research tool which uses international law in climate change-related case analysis–, becoming one of the very first scholars who researched the correlation between human rights, environmental, refugee/migration law and climate change in the field. More could be found in the book Dr. Corendea published last year called “Legal Protection of the Sinking Islands Refugees”

Currently an AXA Postdoc Fellow, Dr. Corendea holds the Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) distinction in International  Legal  Studies  from Golden Gate  University  School  of  Law  and he received his LL.M. in Intercultural  Human  Rights (with honors) from Saint Thomas University School of Law.



Venue: UNU-MERIT, Room 1.23

Date: 23 November 2017

Time: 16:00 - 17:00


UNU-MERIT