The Politics of Rights Protection for Environmentally Displaced People

Roger Zetter
Migration Institute of Finland
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Drawing on empirical evidence from Bangladesh and Ethiopia, the paper challenges the largely apolitical and a historical conceptualisation of the nexus between climate and environmental
change and population displacement. Focusing specifically on rights protection, the paper argues that the rights discourse reveals how environmental variables shaping mobility decisions are strongly mediated by national (macro) and local (micro) level structures of political and social power and disempowerment. Both current politics and migration histories shape the way in which migration policy regimes are conceived and framed, and how rights are articulated for those susceptible to displacement in a context of environmental stress and climate change. By analysing these political conditions we can better appreciate the dominant ”hinge points” of power and the paradox that governments of highly impacted countries resist the provision of legal and normative frameworks to protect those who are displaced.