High Commissioners for Refugees

Introduction to the topic:

Policymakers worldwide often perceive climate change as an issue whose implications we will see only in decades to come - as an issue that we shall address for the benefit of future generations.

However, climate change and environmental hazards are already threatening the lives of many in developing countries.

The main consequence of climate change is well comprehended: rising temperatures cause glaciers to melt, causing rising sea levels. The increasing sea levels cause extreme meteorological conditions such as high tides, overflow, and a greater risk of tsunamis.

According to scientists and climate experts, sea levels are rapidly rising, which potentially will result in dangerous major city overflows worldwide in the coming century.

Furthermore, as temperatures rise, so does the danger of drought and wildfire, resulting in a shortage of drinking water, agricultural degradation, and food insecurity.

All of these eventually lead to poverty and displacement.

People are fleeing their homes, communities, jobs and lands due to the escalating environmental threats, which have rendered many parts of the world untenable.

According to the UNHCR, water-related dangers forced 21.5 million people to flee their homes (per year) between 2008 and 2016 (“climate refugees”).

Environmental migration is fraught with political barriers, practical impediments and substantial legal issues. Defining "climate refugees" is one of the issues that international decision-makers face.

People fleeing their countries due to natural disasters and climate hazards are not considered refugees under Article 1 of The Refugee Convention, 1951, which states that refugees are those who have a "well-founded fear of being persecuted because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion."

As a result, "climate refugees" are not legally recognized as refugees, and their rights are limited compared to refugees rights, as is states' obligation to protect refugees from refoulement, especially.

That is only an example of one challenge that you can address in the committee, and we would suggest you get your inspiration from the following questions:
What Legal mechanisms should member states implement on international and on national levels? Should member states allow climate migrants to enter their borders?
What Environmental solutions can member states implement to address the extreme meteorological condition? Should member states adopt new environmental goals? Are the current UN 2030 and 2050 goals enough?
What are the risks to conflicts and violence in climate change and environmental hazards in vulnerable areas?

Emilie Delforge-Watine

Hey! My name is Emilie Delforge-Watine and I’m a second year majoring in Social Sciences at AUC. I’m French but I’ve lived in Bali for the main part of my life, which is where I first discovered MUNs. 

Since then, when I moved to high school in France, I became committed to debating and attended many MUNs, even abroad (where I had some of the best moments and keep such fun memories). Having found a passion for debating, and finding the topics always so interesting, also led me to choose my track in international relations which I love! 

I'm very happy to be chairing at AUCMUN this year, and I am ready to take on the new UNHCR refugee challenge with you all and sincerely hope we reach fruitful and constructive solutions together. 

Benjamin Reznik

Hello everyone, my name is Benjamin Reznik, and I am a legal advisor from Israel. 

I am a lawyer and a recent Northwestern University and Tel-Aviv University Master of Laws graduate. I also hold a Bachelor of Laws degree from Reichman University, with expertise in international dispute settlement. 

I first participated in a MUN as a competitor in March 2018, when I represented the Netherlands at the United Nations headquarters in NYC, and I was immediately drawn to MUNs. Since then, I've had the privilege of chairing MUNs across the world. 

I'm looking forward to meeting all of you in person, especially since Covid-19 has kept us all apart.