International Development Law Organization

Pathways to Justice: A Rule of Law Approach to Climate Mobility

Side event organized by the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) and the Open Society Foundations (OSF) at the Climate Mobility Pavilion on the occasion of UNFCCC COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh.
Monday, 14 November 2022, 13:00 – 14:30 UTC+2

Climate mobility has emerged as the human face of the climate crisis. As people are displaced by climate-induced natural disasters and conflict, or choose rural-urban, coastal-inland or transboundary migration as an adaptation strategy to cope with the adverse effects of climate change, climate mobility will constitute a significant global development challenge.

On the move, climate migrants are commonly subjected to violations of basic rights, the denial of legal status, discrimination, and a lack of access to essential services (including sexual and reproductive health services). They are also often deprived of their agency in decision-making regarding the planning and management of their relocation or resettlement. Women and children account for an estimated 80% of those displaced by climate change, and in the absence of safe migratory routes and strong legal safeguards, they are at a heightened risk of being subjected to gender-based violence and other rights violations.

Robust legal protections, legal certainty, and the ability to access effective, accountable, and people- centred pathways to justice at each stage of the journey are necessary pre-requisites to address the insecurity and injustices experienced by climate migrants, and contribute to effective rights-based crisis and recovery responses to displacement driven or exacerbated by climate change. Through inclusive, participatory and coordinated governance approaches, displacement from slow-onset climate processes can be planned and managed, in alignment with international human rights standards, to reduce the burden of internal or transboundary migration on local authorities in the receiving states, and ensure timely access to effective justice outcomes for climate migrants.

This event will seek to facilitate discussions on people-centred climate action through the rule of law to address some of the legal and justice challenges caused by climate displacement. It will identify innovative rule of law-based solutions to promote and protect the rights of those who have been displaced and facilitate more effective planning and management of internal and international migratory routes.

In order to highlight the role of the rule of law and SDG16 on peace, justice, and strong institutions in advancing justice for climate migrants, this event will focus on the following guiding questions:

  • What human rights challenges do climate migrants face at different stages of their displacement, and what are the main barriers to justice for people who are displaced by climate change?
  • How can formal and customary and informal justice actors and governance systems in climate-vulnerable contexts promote and protect the rights of those who have been displaced due climate change, and help to facilitate the effective rights-based management of migration for people who move as an adaptation strategy to deal with the worsening effects of climate change?
  • What legal and justice solutions are needed to address Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) in situations where women and girls have been displaced due to climate disasters?


The event will also spotlight some findings from two of IDLO’s recent or forthcoming research publications:

  • The first is an insights paper on Rule of Law Responses to Climate Insecurity Risks, which includes a case study on some of IDLO’s work in Somalia, where IDLO supported the National Commission for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons to adopt laws, policies, and administrative regulations that increase the level of protection for internally displaced people who have been impacted by climate change.
  • The second is a report on Survivor-Centred Justice for Gender-Based Violence in Complex Situations, which includes an analysis of diverse justice mechanisms to deal with gender-based violence in situations where women have been displaced by climate disasters.


Interactive Panel
  • Ms Reem Alsalem, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women
  • Dr Fabiano de Andrade Correa, Chair of the Climate Change Law Specialist Group in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL)
  • Ms Fridah Githuku,Executive Director of GROOTS Kenya andI nternational Land Coalition(ILC) Council Member
  • Ms Archana Soreng, Member of the UN Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change
  • Dr Mithika Mwenda, Executive Director, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA)
  • Ms Jan Beagle, Director-General, International Development Law Organization