Written by Euronews

The United Nations for High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has moved on to debating several resolutions related to climate refugees as of 6:30 p.m. April 5. More specifically, how to better prepare nations to tackle climate change and prepare for potential influx of climate refugees.

A bloc led by Brazil, France, Germany, Iran, Republic of Korea, Rwanda and the United Kingdom has proposed a resolution called Define, Research, Regional, Innovate, Protect (DRIP). This resolution is aimed at educating and training climate change vulnerable regions through High-Risk Identification Tool and Migration High-Impact Location Brief.

However, the resolution does not define climate refugee. In fact, they use a different term, climate-disaster migrant. This made several nations uneasy.

“They should call them for what they are, refugees.” whispered the Palestinian delegate to this reporter during floor debate.  

The difference between a migrant and a refugee is subtle but also worldly different. A migrant is someone who chose to move and a refugee is someone who has been forced to relocate. Refugee also tends to refer to those dislocated by war or poverty, as laid out in the 1951 Refugee Convention. If passed, this resolution would blur the line between a migrant and a refugee, which would lead to weaker refugee protection laws.

“It’s not our responsibility to change the definition of refugees,” said one of the delegate from the bloc. “We don’t think it’s not our countries responsibility.”

“They are two separate terms,” said the Greek delegate after the debate. “They (the terms) shouldn’t be conflated.”

As the debate on this resolution drags on, tens of millions of people who are being displaced by climate change due to rising sea level are left without proper legal protection. The DRIP resolution does not try to address that issue at all.