23 May 2013

Cook Islands talks on protecting natural disaster refugees

7:36 pm on 23 May 2013

The first of what will be a series of consultations aimed at developing a protective legal framework for people displaced by natural disasters is underway in the Cook Islands.

The Nansen Initiative intends providing legal cover for people forced to cross borders by a natural disaster.

Don Wiseman has more:

"The victims of natural disaster are not considered refugees and so are not covered by international law. The concept is being driven by Swiss and Norwegian academics but the discussions in Rarotonga also include the Cook Islands government, the president of Nauru, who chairs the Association of Small Island States and the vice president of Kiribati. Regional agencies such as the Secretariat of the Pacific Environment Programme and the Pacific Council of Churches are also involved. The Pacific consultations on the Nansen Initiative will be followed by talks in Central America, East Africa and South and Southeast Asia over the next year."