Migration for environmentally displaced Pacific peoples: legal options in the Pacific Rim

Gil Marvel Tabucanon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the complex relationship between the environment and migration, namely the various protection options available for environmentally-displaced Pacific peoples under the laws of the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. It seeks to ascertain whether flexibility exists in these countries' domestic laws for environmental migrants from neighboring Pacific countries. It asks if humanitarian and ministerial discretion admissions and preferential admission schemes sufficiently address potential Pacific island relocations brought about by global warming and climate change, and identifies both opportunities and challenges in legislation. This paper argues that in the absence of an international legal protection regime for environmental migrants, states need to expand immigration opportunites for persons fleeing from environmental threats. In recent decades, the four above-mentioned Pacific Rim states have developed relatively open and liberal migration policies, albeit not specifically geared towards environmental migration. Admitting environmental migrants under equitable and just terms is not only in line with the fundamental values and interests of these Pacific Rim states, but it is also central to their ethical, humanitarian, and domestic legal obligations, although the latter are ad hoc and limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalUCLA Pacific Basin law journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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