Idleness and Intrigue : An Analysis of the UNHCR’s Special Interest in “Climate Refugees”
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My initial predictions surrounding the UNHCR and climate refugees have been significantly proven wrong. At the start, I was under the impression that those displaced by climate change should be considered refugees. Thus, I assumed the UNHCR was responsible for those displaced by climate change. Under this belief, I thought the UNHCR was not committing themselves to stronger and effective change on behalf of those affected. I presumed that member states were the main inhibitor for the UNHCR pursuing further action. Though member states posed significant barriers for the UNHCR, I found the agency’s core mandate restricted any action for climate refugees. Overall, my research found evidence that the UNHCR is not obliged to offer climate refugees assistance. Moreover, it is under no obligation to even address those displaced by climate change. Its restrictive mandate is one I had previously underestimated. In addition, I found the causal link between climate change and forced migration was tenuous, given the wealth of information and political agendas revolving around the connection. Above all else, I found Antonio Guterres’ strong moral convictions for grappling with climate change, as the catalyst for the UNHCR’s response. Thus, I discovered an unexpected answer and gained a greater understanding of how individuals think about social and political change in relation to the environment.