Migration Ethics: Jamie Draper on Climate Displacement

The Migration Ethics podcast interviews leading thinkers within that field. It explores the ethical problems migration raises and the ethical principles that might guide our path. Migration is one the most controversial topics in public life. It raises urgent ethical questions about how political communities treat outsiders. For a long time, ethicists had nothing to say about the subject but fortunately that's changing. Migration ethics is a fast developing field at the intersection of philosophy and migration studies.

In 1951 diplomats from around the world met in Geneva, Switzerland to sign the UN convention relating to the status of refugees. The Convention was designed to address the most pressing cause of displacement in Europe at the time: the persecution of minorities and political opponents by authoritarian governments. In the years since, we’ve come to learn of a new threat: climate change. The changing climate and associated weather events are forcing many to leave their homes. The 1951 Convention does nothing to protect these people. So, what should be done?

One suggestion is that we sign a new convention, create a legal category for those displaced by climate change and award them a set of uniform rights. This podcast is a conversation with Jamie Draper from Oxford University about the latter suggestion, as well as the following questions: what have philosophers had to say about climate displacement? What does justice demand in the case of sinking island states? And why are so many people against using the term “climate refugees”?

- Photo UNICEF -