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Kirabati: Climate Refugee Claim Denied by New Zealand

It is no secret to lawyers and human rights activists that international refugee law does not accomodate those who lose their homes due to anthropogenic climate change.

New Zealand’s denial of a claim for refugee status by a man from Kirabati has confirmed this standard analysis.  The Kirabati islands are low-lying, and are increasingly inundated due to rising sea levels.

But loss of one’s home-land due to climate change is not a form of political persecution, and so does not meet the legal standards for refugee status.

Despite the failure of this plaintiff’s bid to up-date New Zealand’s refugee laws, the suit demonstrates the clear need for new law.

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