SOCHUM

Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee

★⭐︎⭐︎ – Beginner

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Topic A: The Legal Status of "Climate Refugees"

 

A “refugee” is defined as a person who has crossed an international border “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion” (1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees).

 

Natural events cause displacement three times as often as conflicts and violence; around 30.7 million people had to leave their homes in 2020 due to natural events such as continuous rain, prolonged droughts, heat waves and storms, both in the short and long term, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

 

Climate change impacts are ramping up multiple challenges to people’s safety, security, and dignity such as poverty, sustainable access to food, water and livelihoods, and pressures on peaceful co-existence. Under crisis conditions, people are being forced to flee their homes - not as a choice, but as a matter of survival.

Yet, there is no legally binding definition for those people and thus no legal consequences for states on how to treat them. UNHCR is currently endorsing the term “persons displaced in the context of disasters and climate change.”

 

Should these people receive refugee status and be recognized as “climate refugees” as proposed by numerous activists and initiatives across the globe? Should states be obliged to host them? Should they maybe even be included in the 1951 Refugee Convention?

elbMUN’s SOCHUM will convene in Dresden to discuss these questions and decide on potential institutionalized mechanisms to tackle the issue at hand.


 

Topic B: Political instrumentalization of migration flows

 

“Refugees as weapons” is a term used to describe a hostile government that is organizing, or threatening to organize, a sudden influx of refugees into another country in order to overwhelm its borders and cause political discomfort.

 

In recent months, Belarus has allowed in thousands of migrants, using them as weapons to “flood” the European Union. Polish and Lithuanian authorities have reportedly abused migrants, forcing them back into Belarus. Might the Belarus situation serve as “role model” for other states to use refugees as weapons? What measures, precautions and regulations would have to be created to prevent this from happening in the future? Would states be condemned for such acts or is the humanitarian crisis rather caused by a failure of the receiving countries to fulfill their obligations under the Geneva Convention?

Participate in the elbMUN 2022's SOCHUM committee to debate and learn more about this topic!