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Refugee lands management: request for setting up an internationalized committee - 10/07/2049

This is a meeting of major importance for the Pacific that will take place early next week at the UN and unfortunately the outcome hoped for by our region is likely to not occur.

Indeed, in a few days will be held the international meeting to define a land management regime for the lands entrusted (assigned) to the Pacific countries victim of rising water.

Let's go back a bit.

A little more than twenty years ago, the first states of the Pacific began to face the rise of waters such as Kiribati, Tuvalu ... (yes indeed, the sea level rise were a reality as early as 2010 / 2020!) had begun to acquire land in other states as a back-up solution to transfer their populations when their original island lands would no longer be habitable (notably because of the pollution of the freshwater salt water).

At the time, these lands had been acquired from other Pacific states that had shown solidarity with their cousins.

But facing the amplification of the phenomenon and its consequences, the Pacific States (and some of South-East Asia and the Indian Ocean) began to make land acquisitions from the large states that could offer available space: USA, China, Australia, Russia, India...

At the time, facing pressure from the public opinion, which finally opened the eyes to the reality of climate change, purchasing procedures had been relatively simplified.

But with the first population movements on these lands, the population of the major host states has begun to raise a number of questions about the interactions with what is commonly called (with all the biases it entails) the “climate refugees ".

Here again, public opinion, more and more the fifth political power since the advent of social networks, has guided political decisions and actions. And the big states, which eventually got cold feet (despite global warming), limited the rights of refugee populations to the land they had acquired.

Faced with growing tensions, the UN has seized on the subject and has led, for the past 5 years, a working group to define the management and interaction modalities related to these host lands:

  • Status of refugees (citizenship of the welcoming State or perpetuation of their original citizenship),

  • Exploitation of the natural resources of these lands (and ownership of these resources),

  • Conditions of passage between the host country and the rest of the host State (free movement or border),

  • And of course the status of the land itself: new state, province, federated state or simple occupation of land of another state.

It is clear that these issues are excessively politically sensitive and the balance (political, demographic) of influence does not weigh in favor of the Pacific. That is why they wanted the UN to be the leader of these negotiations.

The hopes are meager, but as the past has taught us, today's international negotiations, no longer solved by armed conflict, take time. Hopefully at least some common ground will be found to ensure that these populations, who have not chosen to leave their original lands, have a minimum of rights and decency before time anchors naturally the status of these lands in the international institutional landscape.

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