Environmental degradation and human rights abuses: Does the Refugee Convention confer protection to environmental refugees?

The article deals with the impact of the multinational companies in the indigenous territories, situation that is creating a new kind of casualty —the environmental refugee—. The development of the multinational companies highly contribute to the violation, inter alias, of the right to life and health of vulnerable social groups. Environmental displacement affects millions of people and is likely to affect many more in the near future. They have no official status and no official protection. The International Community should respond to the humanitarian concerns of environmentally refugees, and the threat posed by the indiscriminate actions of the transnational Companies. This article questions the absence of non-relief development assistance for environmental refugees and consequently it is the obligation of the international community to substantively extend the definition of refugee to one that encompasses those displaced for environmental reasons. The contemporary challenge is to interpret the refugee’s definition in a suitable way that accommodates or include current refugee flows. This paper argues that according to the Vienna Convention, an evolutionary approach for interpretation of the Refugee Convention, should be necessary to protect new kind of refugees and therefore fulfill the objectives and purposes of the Convention.

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