Social Science Research Council Research AMP Mediawell

Normative Accounts of International Environmental Migration in Latin America and the Religious Component of Intangible Loss

Albro, Robert

This paper describes incipient international and regional Latin American deliberations concerning normative frameworks for addressing environmentally-induced migration, and the role attributed to religion in these accounts. It begins by sketching the history of international normative instruments in support of refugees, highlighting Latin America’s leadership in successive efforts to advance refugee protections and to broaden inclusion in that category. It goes on to discuss reasons for the eventual failure of efforts to legally recognize “climate refugees,” and to survey renewed approaches to the issue, building on multilateral instruments about climate change as opposed to refugees. Finally, this paper explores implications of the decision by secular multilateral agencies to recognize faith-based actors as partners in the humanitarian response to rapid-onset environmental disasters, and the challenges this choice introduces for a more comprehensive appreciation of religion’s importance to communities affected by the long-term disruptions of environmentally-induced displacement.