Climate change, disasters and displacement – a toolkit approach in Africa


Environmental disasters and climate change are now the leading causes of displacement worldwide. Last year, an estimated 24.2 million people were newly displaced by disasters, nearly four times the number displaced by conflict and violence. As the effects of climate change are increasingly felt, these numbers will increase. Already, across the globe the risk of being displaced by a disaster has quadrupled in the last forty years. Yet, those forced from their homes by floods, drought, cyclones and earthquakes are generally not protected by international law frameworks for the protection of forced migrants, including international refugee law and complementary protection. The result is a wide, and growing, ‘protection gap’ for people displaced in the context of disasters and climate change.

In recognition of this protection gap and the growing urgency of the need to address it, governments, scholars and international organisations have been working together to develop a ‘toolkit’ of legal options and effective practices for protecting the rights and dignity of those forced to move in the context of disasters and climate change. Tamara Wood will discuss some of the potential options and practices in Africa, including current initiatives at the regional and sub-regional levels, providing a comparative perspective with similar initiatives in other regions and at the international level.


Tamara Wood is a Member of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW Law, where she is undertaking a PhD in African regional refugee law. Tamara was a member of the Consultative Committee for the Nansen Initiative on Disaster-Induced Cross-Border Displacement and is now a member of the Advisory Committee for the Platform on Disaster Displacement, the follow up to the Nansen Initiative. In 2014, Tamara was the consulting legal expert for the Nansen Initiative’s Regional Consultation for the Greater Horn of Africa, for which she authored a major technical report analysing African regional and sub-regional law and policy frameworks for addressing displacement in the context of disasters and climate change.

Tamara has published in the fields of international refugee and human rights law, including in the International Journal of Refugee Law, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, and the Forced Migration Review. In 2012, she was a visiting researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and conducted field research on the implementation of refugee norms in South Africa, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Tamara taught Forced Migration and Human Rights in International Law and other Law subjects as a former Nettheim Doctoral Teaching Fellow at UNSW Law. Prior to commencing her doctorate, Tamara worked as a refugee advocate in Melbourne, assisting onshore refugee applicants with their claims for asylum.


Date: Wednesday 15 November 2017

Time: 12pm to 1pm. Lunch is available from 11.45pm outside the Moot Court.

Venue: Level 2, La Trobe Law School Moot Court (Social Sciences building, Room 232), La Trobe University, Bundoora

Cost: Free

RVSP: Please register via Eventbrite.

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