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States must protect migrant workers displaced across international borders by climate change, UN Committee says

18 December 2023

GENEVA (18 December 2023) - Building on the Dubai COP 28 Agreement, the UN Committee on Migrant Workers called on all States parties to address the effects of climate change and environmental disasters as drivers of migration. It also called for the protection of migrant workers displaced across international borders as a result of climate change.

To mark the International Migrants Day, the Committee issued a statement, summarised as below:

“A ground-breaking agreement at COP 28 recognised the need to transition away from fossil fuels to minimise greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement acknowledges that climate change is a global issue and that parties should comply with their obligation to address it to protect human rights with particular attention to the rights of certain groups, such as migrants.

Climate change could force 216 million people across six world regions to move within their countries by 2050, as highlighted by the World Bank’s Groundswell report. Climate change exacerbates migrants’ vulnerability as they have few options and frequently find themselves migrating in conditions that violate their human dignity and integrity. Migration is a normal human adaptation strategy and often the only alternative for entire communities to withstand climate change. Climate change must be addressed as a new source of emerging migration and international displacement.

The environmental justice movement has progressively addressed the specific vulnerability of certain groups, including migrant workers and their families. Yet, there should be more discussion on how systemic and historical racism and other multiple and intersecting systems of discrimination have created those vulnerabilities.

The Committee, therefore, recommends that States address climate change, environmental degradation, and natural catastrophes as drivers of migration, ensuring they do not impair the human rights of migrants and their families, among other recommendations. States should also provide complementarity protection and temporary stay arrangements for migrant workers displaced by climate change who cannot return to their home countries.

In their future work, the Committees shall continue to monitor the effects of climate change and climate-related disasters on the rights holders protected by their respective treaties and provide guidance to States on how to meet their obligations under these instruments regarding mitigation and adaptation to climate change.”


For more information and media enquiry, please contact:
Vivian Kwok at [email protected]
UN Human Rights Office Media Section at [email protected]

The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families monitors States parties' adherence to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, which to date has 59 States parties. The Committee is made up of 14 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties.

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