The Peninsula Principles Turn 6!
On 18 August 2019, the Peninsula Principles on Climate Displacement Within States will celebrate their sixth anniversary. The ravages of climate change and climate displacement continue to worsen, and in many respects are turning out to be more rapid, more severe and more widespread than initially predicted. We developed the Principles in 2013 to provide a clear framework grounded in pre-existing human rights law to enable governments to develop the policies and laws needed to protect the rights of the millions of people who will have to leave their homes because of climate change.
While the world has a great distance to travel in transforming the ideals of the Principles into reality, to date they have taken root in an ever-growing array of institutions and agencies, with countless statements in support of the Principles coming from far and wide over the past six years, including many of the key officials within the UN working to address climate displacement.
UN Climate Change Envoy (and former Irish President and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights), Mary Robinson noted that “States facing climate-related displacement within their borders require significant financial support and technical expertise to develop solutions that provide for the rights of those affected. The Peninsula Principles provide a normative framework, based on human rights, to address the rights of internally displaced people.”
The UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee has issued a Reflection Paper to the Council on Climate-Induced Displacement and Human Rights where it was stated that the Principles “provide a good foundation for the protection of the specific needs of those internally displaced by climate change in line with a human rights based approach and are consistent with international human rights and humanitarian law.”
An article in the premier global journal on displacement, Forced Migration Review, described the Principles in the following way: “The Peninsula Principles are arguably the clearest example to date of guidance which promotes comprehensive vulnerability reduction through climate change resettlement. They suggest that the resettlement process should preserve existing social and cultural institutions, ensure the resettlement site is not also at risk of climate change-related hazards, maintain or enhance housing and land tenure for resettled residents, provide compensation for lost assets, maintain or strengthen livelihoods, and strengthen capacities at multiple levels to deal with resettlement”.
Governments in all of the countries generating climate displacement have been fully briefed on the Principles and a growing number of government officials are using the Principles to guide the development of domestic law and policy from Bangladesh, to Panama, to Vanuatu, to Fiji, to the Solomon Islands, Viet Nam and beyond. At the grassroots level, growing numbers of local communities are organising around the Principles and demanding new homes for lost homes and new lands for new lands. The recent decision by the government of Indonesia to possibly relocate the entire capital city of Jakarta, as alarming as this may sound, provides another instance where the Principles can help guide local policies to protect the poorest and weakest members of society.
Our book REPAIRING DOMESTIC CLIMATE DISPLACEMENT: THE PENINSULA PRINCIPLES published by Routledge gives a broader overview of the Principles and how they can be put into effect.
We’ve arranged for the translation of the Principles into eight different languages and have printed thousands of copies of the Principles and have made sure that every government represented in Geneva at the UN has at one copy on hand.
There’s much more to report on how the Principles are continuing to make a real difference in the lives of climate displaced people, households and communities the world over, but we also need to be painfully realistic in how far we have to go to ensure that every person forced to flee their homes and lands because of climate change have accessible, fair, equitable and well-resourced procedures available to them so that they are enabled to find new places to live where their lives can begin again.
At the end of the day, all the Principles ask is that every person, household and community threatened with climate displacement have a door to knock on which will assure them a measurable degree of climate justice, including access to homes and lands where they can begin life anew.
DS and all of our partners spread across the globe will continue our efforts in the coming months and years to transform the Principles into tangible and positive results for the millions of people who by no fault of their own need to leave those sacred places they have called home, often for generations.
Happy anniversary Peninsula Principles! Here’s to many more to come!
Stay in touch and let us know if you have any further news on the Principles in practice.
All the best,
Scott Leckie (Director and Founder)