Global Human Rights Defence

Climate Change Induced Migration, Conceptual and Legal Overview. An Update in the Light of COP26.

Sherova Veronika
Environment & Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence

I am the same as people who are fleeing war.
Those who are afraid of dying, it is the same as me.
Mr. Ioane Teitiota [1]

Introduction

The adverse impact of climate change on human settlement and mobility patterns is evident. The most pressing concern is that climate change has the greatest effect on the weakest and most exposed populations (IPCC, 2014) such as migrants and those who are unable and too poor to move. A changing climate can reduce people’s freedom by determining where, how, and when to move, leading to displacement or, in contrast, reducing mobility. Therefore, climate change is a major threat to human rights (Bettini, 2017).

Because people rarely migrate only for environmental reasons and given the complexity of the migration issue, it is hard to estimate exactly the number of people displaced or migrated specifically due to climate change. Available numbers are alarming. The last report released by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies states that a vast majority (98%) of the 30.7 million people displaced in 2020 “was in the context of weather and climate hazards – mostly floods and storms, but also wildfires, landslides, extreme temperatures and drought” (IFRC, 2021, p. 4). The World Bank estimation suggests that there could be as many as 216 million climate migrants by 2050 (Clement et al., 2021). 

The international community has recognized climate change induced migration by holding the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and other mechanisms as the primary instruments to combat the issue. In the light of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), the article aims to assess how the conference addresses the challenges posed by climate-induced migration. Several preparatory steps have to be taken. First, it is necessary to understand the nature of human mobility in the context of climate change. This mobility has different forms and names which imply particular legal jurisdiction and, thus, it deserves a thorough investigation. Next, the article elaborates on the existing protection mechanisms and their limitations. Further, the general UN’s perspectives and approach to dealing with the issue at stake are formulated. Finally, we will be able to examine the praxis at COP26. 

Typology of human movement in the context of climate change and implications for law

The definitions related to climate change induced migration that one might encounter are not necessarily legal terms. “Environmental refugee” is not a legal term. There are others which are used interchangeably – climate refugees, forced climate migrants, environmentally displaced persons, etc. (Deshwal & Shrivastava, 2019). Moreover, climate change induced human movement can take on many forms. Distinguishing the type of movement is important both thematically and legally. Furthermore, the choice of the terms determines applicable policy frameworks (Ferris, 2020).

Three types of human movement in the context of climate change were outlined as a result of a pivotal decision of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Cancun (COP16) in December 2010: displacement, migration, and planned relocation. Parties recognized the potential impact of climate change on the movement of people and invited all parties to the Convention “to enhance action on adaptation under the Cancun Adaptation Framework … by undertaking inter alia, the following: … (f) Measures to enhance understanding, coordination and cooperation with regard to climate change induced displacement, migration and planned relocation, where appropriate, at national, regional and international levels” (UNFCCC, 2011) 

Displacement is regarded as forced movement, whereas migration is understood as predominantly voluntary movement. Planned relocation describes a process wherein individuals or groups are physically relocated – both, forcefully or voluntarily – from homes and permanently settled in new locations (Ferris, 2020). The key consideration here is the element of choice (Warner et al. 2013). For instance, a person escaping from an upcoming cyclone and either fleeing to an evacuation center by herself or evacuated by authorities would fall into the displacement category (Ferris, 2020). 

However, displacement, migration, and planned relocation are not the only mobility responses to the impacts of climate change. Immobility – or, so-called “trapped” populations – has gathered a fair amount of political attention in recent years (Weerasinghe, 2021). The term “trapped” regards those who are unable to move out of locations of high exposure to climate change and its impacts due to financial, political, or other reasons (Ferris, 2020).

Today, policymakers and scholars, as well as organizations engaging with climate change and migration (International Organization for Migration (IOM), UN High Commissioner on Refugees, among others), embrace the multifaceted character of migration and frame the issue in a nuanced manner accordingly to the four outlined forms (Bettini, 2017; Ferris, 2020).

Furthermore, for legal reasons, when relocated people remain within the boundaries of their own country they are referred to as “internally displaced people” and “refugees” when they cross national boundaries (Atapattu, 2009). The first category falls into the states’ sovereign jurisdiction and international regulatory instruments are yet to be established (Deshwal & Shrivastava, 2019). The second category is regulated by the 1951 Refugee Convention, which defines a refugee as 

“[o]wing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it,” (Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951, art. 1(2)). 

Accordingly, someone fleeing their country because of environmental reasons, in particular those imposed by climate change, does not meet the conditions necessary to be considered a refugee (Atapattu, 2009; Mayer, 2011). Further, the Refugee Convention was formulated as a result of the Second World War to provide asylum to people facing political atrocities. Since it was never intended to address any other category of migrants, the Refugee Convention cannot be interpreted as providing any relief to people threatened by environmental or climate change factors (Deshwal & Shrivastava, 2019). 

The Existing Model for Protection of Environmentally Displaced People 

The United Nations Climate instruments are the key tool for dealing with the human mobility problem within the climate change context (Deshwal & Shrivastava, 2019). Here, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Cancun Adaptation Framework, the Warsaw Loss and Damage mechanism, and the Paris Agreement are vital to the understanding of the complexity of the matter. 

2.The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change does not touch upon the issue of mobility of the population affected by climate change or other environmental factors. However, as we will later see, other instruments originate in it as well as this certain provisions of the Convention impose obligations on the international community that can be interpreted as pertinent to the environmentally displaced. Articles 4(4), 4(3), 4(9) interpreted together require developed country parties to assist the developing country parties in dealing with the adverse effects of climate change, specifically, by providing them with adequate funding and transfer of technology (Deshwal & Shrivastava, 2019).

2. The Cancun Adaptation Framework

During COP 16 in 2010, the Parties established the Cancun Adaptation Framework and the Adaptation Committee. This was a very important step towards international recognition of the issue of mobility of the population affected by climate change. The international community recognized the issue of mobility induced by climate change and its adverse environmental factors and also acknowledged that the issue is transboundary (Deshwal & Shrivastava, 2019). Paragraph 14(f) of the Cancun Adaptation Framework calls on the country parties to take “measures to enhance understanding, coordination and cooperation with regard to climate change induced displacement, migration and planned relocation, where appropriate, at the national, regional and international levels” (UNFCCC, 2011, art. 2(14f)). 

3.The Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage

In November 2013, the COP19 established the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) to address loss and damage associated with impacts of climate change in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to them (Doelle, 2014). The origins of the WIM can be found in Article 4(4) of the UNFCCC that calls for developed country Parties to “assist the developing country Parties that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting costs of adaptation to those adverse effects” (UNFCCC, 1992, art. 4(4)).

Initially, WIM included nine action areas in its work plan (UNFCCC, 2013). Action 6 was specifically related to climate change induced migration and called upon the parties to observe, analyze and submit data with respect to projected migration and displacement. Thus, the WIM aimed to create a governance forum to assess the readiness to deal with climate-induced migration (Deshwal & Shrivastava, 2019). 

In 2016, the Task Force on Displacement was established under the WIM and, in 2018 at COP24, states adopted the recommendations developed by the Task Force (Decision 10/CP.24). Key takeaways from the recommendations included addressing all forms of human mobility linked to climate change, integrating climate change and migration concerns when formulating laws, policies, and strategies based on evidence, connecting global climate policy to global migration policy, facilitating regular international migration pathways, and others (Environmental migration portal, 2021). It is crucial to remember that the decision to adopt the recommendations is a non-binding act. 

4.Paris Agreement 

The Paris agreement was initially adopted at COP 21 in Paris, in December 2015. It does not directly refer to climate change induced migration and consequently does not provide solutions to the issue. However, the preamble of the Paris Agreement requires parties to respect and promote the human rights of vulnerable populations, indigenous people, children, and migrants. Therefore, the agreement is meant to safeguard climate-induced migrants by giving power to the Parties to the treaty to undertake any necessary actions to address the issue.

In light of these facts, it should now become clear that the current United Nations system of protecting migrants as a result of climate change is insufficient. Despite existing instruments that recognize developed countries’ moral responsibility and obligate them to provide financial assistance, a mechanism that advocates accountability, transparency, and compliance is not yet available (Deshwal & Shrivastava, 2019). 

Perspectives and response measures

UN policies retain a human security focused approach with respect to climate change and migration (Butros et al., 2021). 

“Looking to the future, the human rights and protection needs of those affected by climate change must feature in national development priorities (such as agriculture, infrastructure and education), strategic planning and budgeting,” (Türk, 2014, p. 7).

The UN approach suggests climate adaptation and resilience building in countries of origin as response measures to climate induced migration. Despite this, climate adaptation does not incorporate relocation and resettlement (Butros et al., 2021). Because of increased migration across international borders, it is crucial that the mechanisms for addressing climate-induced migration have broader approaches rather than adaptation and resilience building. Relocation and resettlement must also be considered as adaptation mechanisms.

The theme of climate change induced migration at COP26 

At COP26, the Task Force on Displacement presented its recommendations on climate change-induced migration. While issues of human mobility were institutionalized through the WIM, building support for the recommendations of the Task Force on Displacement is crucial. As before, COP26 represented the opportunity to enhance visibility and promote discussion on the topic. On November 4, the Executive Committee of WIM (ExCom) showcased the progress in the implementation of the work plan of the ExCom and discussed opportunities for the broad range of stakeholders to contribute to the upcoming thematic activities to assist actions in averting, minimizing, and addressing loss and damage associated with climate change. 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has also become increasingly involved in the matters of climate change induced migration in recent years. “As the impacts of disasters, land degradation and water scarcity become more intense and devastating, it has become critical to address the impacts of climate change on migration, displacement and health,” stated António Vitorino, Director General of IOM. “These issues are interconnected but have been addressed in a siloed manner for too long” (WHO, 2021). On November 9 at the COP26, a high-level event addressed the multidirectional linkages between the three challenges. The event included contributions from IOM and WHO Directors-General António Vitorino and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as well as high-level representatives of countries affected by climate change. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus encouraged “including human mobility in national climate change action plans, strengthening services and systems for migrants, taking measures to keep essential services running after disasters, and prioritising access to sustainable and predictable financial resources for vulnerable countries” (WHO, 2021). The main focus of the event was on health issues and urgent inclusion of considerations of migrants’ health in policies related to environmental and climate change issues. [2]

These and other events were held in Glasgow (see Environmental migration portal, 2021). Ultimately, after two weeks of negotiation, the Glasgow Final Pact was signed. Under the Final Pact, parties decided “to establish the Glasgow Dialogue between Parties, relevant organizations and stakeholders to discuss the arrangements for the funding of activities to avert, minimize and address loss and damage associated with the adverse impacts of climate change” (UNFCCC, 2021). The ExCom of the WIM is requested to support the implementation of the Dialogue. Initially, the developing countries proposed to establish a “facility” that would provide financial support to communities suffering irreversible damage from climate impacts. But, as the Washington Post reports, wealthy nations avoided the language that would hold them accountable (The Washington Post, 2021). 

Conclusions and recommendations 

Climate change induced migration is fundamentally an issue of justice. At COP26, developed high-emissions countries acknowledged the importance of multilevel cooperation but failed to build commitments under UNFCCC to address legal, financial, and other challenges related to climate change induced migration. Being responsible for climate change, developed countries must compensate communities on the front line for irreparable losses and damage and help other nations resettle displaced people. 

Under the UNFCCC umbrella, the international community must examine the challenges of climate change more thoroughly and adopt mechanisms to address climate change induced migration. First, as the current system of international law is not equipped to protect climate migrants, a clear international legal framework to account for climate change as a driver of displacement should be established. Further, the UN should expand its approach to climate adaptation and consider relocation and resettlement as a part of the approach. For this, greater resources are needed, for instance, those aimed at providing safe transportation and expanding destination countries’ integration abilities. Above that, the above-mentioned moral obligations provided under the Climate Change Convention or Paris Agreement in regards to the finances for adaptation and resilience building lack imperative. An organized devoted body should guarantee accountability. For example, creating a dedicated fund under IOM or UNHCR would allow this issue to be addressed directly (John Podesta, 2019). 

The above-mentioned strategies are far-stretching but their implementation will ultimately impact the lives of millions of affected people and communities around the globe. 

If you found this article interesting, we encourage you to read the other two articles in this series: 

“The Inclusion of Indigenous Peoples at UN Climate Change Conferences – A View at The History and Present,” and 

“Tracking the COP Approach to Gender.” 

 

Notes

[1] In a landmark decision of the UN Human Rights Committee associated with the claim to protection by Mr. Teitiota seeking asylum from the effects of climate change, the committee determined that people who flee the effects of climate change and natural disasters should not be returned to their country of origin if essential human rights would be at risk on return. The quote is featured in the interview given by Mr. Teitiota to BBC (Tim McDonald, 2015). 

[2] COP26 events related to addressing the climate-health-migration nexus are Roundtable on “Climate change, migration and health: transforming tomorrow – a call to action”; High-level policy discussion on “Climate change, migration and health: interconnected challenges for the 21st century”; UN System event: “The Health Argument of Climate Action: The COP26 Health Programme” (WHO, 2021).

References

 Academic articles

Atapattu, S. (2009). Climate change, human rights, and forced migration: implications for international law. Wisconsin International Law Journal, 27(3), 607-636.

Bettini, G. (2017). Where next? Climate change, migration, and the (bio) politics of adaptation. Global Policy, 8, 33-39.

Butros, D., Gyberg, V. B., & Kaijser, A. (2021). Solidarity Versus Security: Exploring Perspectives on Climate Induced Migration in UN and EU Policy. Environmental Communication, 1-15.

Deshwal, V. S., & Shrivastava, S. (2019). The Curious Case of Environmental Refugees: Environmental Refugees May be Better Protected without Being Declared as’ Refugees’. OIDA International Journal of Sustainable Development, 12(11), 31-42.

Doelle, M. (2014). The Birth of the Warsaw Loss & Damage Mechanism: Planting a Seed to Grow Ambition?. Carbon & Climate Law Review, 35-45.

Ferris, E. (2020). Research on climate change and migration where are we and where are we going?. Migration Studies, 8(4), 612-625.

Mayer, B. (2011). The international legal challenges of climate-induced migration: Proposal for an international legal framework. Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy, 22, 357-481.

United Nations Sources

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (May 9, 1992). United Nations framework convention on climate change. [referenced as UNFCCC, 1992]. Retrieved November 7, 2021, from http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/convkp/conveng.pdf 

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (2011). Report of the Conference of the Parties on its sixteenth session, held in Cancun from 29 November to 10 December 2010. [referenced as UNFCCC, 2011]. Retrieved November 5, 2021, from https://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2010/cop16/eng/07a01.pdf

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (2014). Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage Associated with Climate Change Impacts, Report of the Conference of the Parties on its nineteenth session, held in Warsaw from 11 to 23 November 2013, (Part two: Action taken by the Conference of the Parties at its nineteenth session). [referenced as UNFCCC, 2013]. Retrieved November 5, 2021, from https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/docs/2013/cop19/eng/10a01.pdf

United Nations Refugee Agency. (1951). Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Retrieved November 7, 2021, from http://www.unhcr.org/protect/PROTECTION/3b66c2aa10.pdf 

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (2021). Glassgow CLimate Pact. [referenced as UNFCCC, 2021]. Retrieved November 14, 2021, from https://www.slideshare.net/wyakab/cop26-glasgow-climate-pact-outcome-document 

Other sources

Clement, V., Rigaud, K.K., de Sherbinin, A., Jones, B., Adamo, S., Schewe, J., Sadiq, N., Shabahat, E. (2021). Groundswell Part 2: Acting on Internal Climate Migration. World Bank, Washington, DC. Retrieved November 8, 2021, from https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/36248 

Environmental migration portal. (2021). Climate Migration at COP26. Available via the link https://environmentalmigration.iom.int/policy/human-mobility-cop26 

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. (2021). Displacement in a changing climate Report. 

John Podesta. (2019). The climate crisis, migration, and refugees, Report. Retrieved November 14, 2021, from https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-climate-crisis-migration-and-refugees/ 

Tim McDonald, “The Man Who Would Be the First Climate Change Refugee,” BBC, (November 5, 2015). Retrieved November 9, 2021, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34674374

The Washington Post. (November 13, 2021). The Glasgow climate pact, annotated. Retrieved November 14, 2021, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/interactive/2021/glasgow-climate-pact-full-text-cop26/ 

Türk, V. (2014). Remarks by Volker Türk Director of International Protection UNHCR Geneva. Discussion Forum on Climate Change.

World Health Organization. (9 November 2021). COP26 – Direct linkages between climate change, health and migration must be tackled urgently – IOM, WHO, Lancet Migration. Cited as ‘(WHO, 2021)’. Retrieved November 9, 2021, from https://www.who.int/news/item/09-11-2021-cop26—direct-linkages-between-climate-change-health-and-migration-must-be-tackled-urgently-iom-who-lancet-migration 

Weerasinghe, S. (2021). What we know about climate change and migration. Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM), Georgetown University. 

2 thoughts on “Climate Change Induced Migration, Conceptual and Legal Overview”

  1. Pingback: Tracking the COP Approach to Gender – Global Human Rights Defence

  2. Pingback: The Inclusion of Indigenous Peoples at UN Climate Change Conferences – A View at The History and Present – Global Human Rights Defence

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Mandakini

Coordinator - Tibet Team

Mandakini graduated with honours from the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. Her team analyses the human rights violations faced by Tibetans through a legal lens.

Kenza Mena
Team Coordinator -China

Kenza Mena has expertise in international criminal law since she is currently pursuing a last-year Master’s degree in International Criminal Justice at Paris II Panthéon-Assas and obtained with honors cum laude an LLM in International and Transnational Criminal Law from the University of Amsterdam. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in French and Anglo-American law. 

Since September 2021, she has been the coordinator of Team China at GHRD, a country where violations of human rights, even international crimes, are frequently perpetrated by representatives of the State. Within Team China, awareness is also raised on discrimination that Chinese women and minorities in the country and, more generally, Chinese people around the world are facing.

Kenza believes that the primary key step to tackle atrocities perpetrated around the world is advocacy and promotion of human rights.

Aimilina Sarafi
Pakistan Coordinator

Aimilina Sarafi holds a Bachelor’s degree cum laude in International Relations and Organisations from Leiden University and is currently pursuing a Double Legal Master’s degree (LLM) in Public International Law and International Criminal Law at the University of Amsterdam.
She is an active advocate for the human rights of all peoples in her community and is passionate about creating a better world for future generations. Aimilina is the coordinator for the GHRD team of Pakistan, in which human rights violations of minority communities in Pakistan are investigated and legally evaluated based on international human rights legal standards.
Her team is working on raising awareness on the plight of minority communities such as women, children, religious and ethnic minorities within Pakistan.

Lukas Mitidieri
Coordinator & Head Researcher- Bangladesh

Lucas Mitidieri is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in International Relations at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). As the GHRD Bangladesh Team Coordinator, he advocates for human rights and monitors violations across all minorities and marginalized groups in Bangladesh. Lucas believes that the fight for International Human Rights is the key to a world with better social justice and greater equality.

Nicole Hutchinson
Editorial Team Lead

Nicole has an MSc in International Development Studies with a focus on migration. She is passionate about promoting human rights and fighting poverty through advocacy and empowering human choice. Nicole believes that even the simplest social justice efforts, when properly nurtured, can bring about radical and positive change worldwide.

Gabriela Johannen
Coordinator & Head Researcher – India

Gabriela Johannen is a lawyer admitted to the German bar and holds extensive knowledge in the fields of human rights, refugee law, and international law. After working for various courts and law firms in her home country, she decided to obtain an LL.M. degree from Utrecht University where she studied Public International Law with a special focus on Human Rights. Additionally, while working as a pro-bono legal advisor for refugees, she expanded her knowledge in the fields of refugee law and migration.

Gabriela is the coordinator and head researcher for GHRD India, a country, she has had a personal connection with since childhood. Her primary focus is to raise awareness for the severe human rights violations against minorities and marginalized groups that continue to occur on a daily basis in India. By emphasizing the happenings and educating the general public, she hopes to create a better world for future generations.

João Victor
Coordinator & Head Researcher – International Justice

João Victor is a young Brazilian lawyer who leads our team of International Justice and Human Rights. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and possesses over 5 years of experience in dealing with Human Rights and International Law issues both in Brazil and internationally, including the protection of refugees’ rights and the strengthening of accountability measures against torture crimes.

João has an extensive research engagement with subjects related to International Justice in general, and more specifically with the study of the jurisprudence of Human Rights Courts regarding the rise of populist and anti-terrorist measures taken by national governments. He is also interested in the different impacts that new technologies may provoke on the maintenance of Human Rights online, and how enforcing the due diligence rules among private technology companies might secure these rights against gross Human Rights violations.

Célinne Bodinger
Environment and Human Rights Coordinator

As the Environment and Human Rights Coordinator, Célinne is passionate about the health of our planet and every life on it.

Angela Roncetti
Team Coordinator and Head Researcher- South America

Angela holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from Vitória Law School (FDV) in Brazil. Her research combines more than five years of experience conducting debates and studies on the rights of homeless people, the elderly, children, and refugees. Besides that, she also volunteers in a social project called Sou Diferente (I am Different in English), where she coordinates and takes part in actions aimed at the assistance and the emancipation of vulnerable groups in the cities of the metropolitan area of Espírito Santo state (Brazil).

Lina Borchardt
Team Head (Promotions)
(Europe)

She is currently heading the Promotions Team and University Chapter of Global Human Rights Defence. Her background is the one of European and International Law, which I am studying in The Hague. She has previously gained experience at Women´s Rights organizations in Germany, the Netherlands and Turkey over the past years.
She has been working for Global Human Rights Defence in the Netherlands since 2020. Her focus now is concentrated on the Human Rights and Minorities Film Festival and the cooperation of GHRD with students across the country.

Pedro Ivo Oliveira
Team Coordinator and Researcher
(Africa)

Pedro holds an extensive background in Human Rights, especially in Global Health, LGBTQ+ issues, and HIV and AIDS. He is currently finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and Affairs at the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Moreover, he successfully attended the Bilingual Summer School in Human Rights Education promoted by the Federal University of Minas Gerais and the Association of Universities of the Montevideo Group. Besides, Pedro Ivo has a diversified professional background, collecting experiences in many NGOs and projects.

With outstanding leadership abilities, in 2021, Pedro Ivo was the Secretary-General of the 22nd edition of the biggest UN Model in Latin America: the MINIONU. Fluent in Portuguese, English, and Spanish, Pedro Ivo is the Team Coordinator and Head Researcher of the Team Africa at Global Human Rights Defence. Hence, his focus is to empower his team from many parts of the world about the Human Rights Situation in the African continent, meanwhile having a humanized approach.

Alessandro Cosmo
GHRD Youth Ambassador
(European Union)

Alessandro Cosmo obtained his B.A. with Honors from Leiden University College where he studied International Law with a minor in Social and Business Entrepreneurship. He is currently pursuing an LL.M. in Public International Law at Utrecht University with a specialization in Conflict and Security. 
As GHRD’s E.U. Youth Ambassador, Alessandro’s two main focuses are to broaden the Defence’s reach within E.U. institutions and political parties, as well as mediate relations between human rights organizations abroad seeking European funding. 
Alessandro believes that human rights advocacy requires grass-roots initiatives where victims’ voices are amplified and not paraphrased or spoken for. He will therefore act on this agenda when representing Global Human Rights Defence domestically and abroad

Veronica Delgado
Team Coordinator and Researcher- Japan, Sri Lanka & Tibet

Veronica is a Colombian lawyer who leads our team of Japan, Sri Lanka and Tibet. She holds a master’s degree in Public International Law from Utrecht University. She has experience in Colombian law firms. Here she represented clients before constitutional courts. She also outlined legal concepts to state entities such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ombudsman’s Office on international law issues.

Veronica has an extensive research background with subjects related to public international law. She worked as an assistant researcher for more than two years for the Externado University of Colombia. Here she undertook in-depth research on constitutional, business, and human rights law issues. She was involved with consultancy services with the Colombian Army regarding transitional justice. 

Wiktoria Walczyk
Coordinator & Head Researcher (Nepal & Indonesia)

Wiktoria Walczyk has joined GHRD in June 2020 as a legal intern. She is currently coordinator and head researcher of Team Nepal and Indonesia. She has an extensive legal knowledge concerning international human rights and is passionate about children’s and minorities’ rights. Wiktoria has obtained her LL.B. in International & European Law and she specialised in Public International Law & Human Rights at The Hague University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Moreover, she is pursuing her LL.M. in International & European Law and focusing on Modern Human Rights Law specialisation at the University of Wroclaw in Poland. In order to gain an essential legal experience, Wiktoria has also joined Credit Suisse’s 2021 General Counsel Graduate First Program where she is conducting her legal training and discovering the banking world. She would like to make a significant impact when it comes to the protection of fundamental human rights around the world, especially with regard to child labour. 

Fairuz Sewbaks
Coordinator and Head Researcher
(Africa)​

Fairuz Sewbaks holds extensive legal knowledge regarding international human rights, with a specific focus on human rights dealings taking place in continental Africa. She holds a bachelor’s degree from The Hague University in public international law and international human rights and successfully followed advanced human rights courses at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. She furthermore participated in the Istanbul Summer School where she was educated about the role of epidemics and pandemics in light of human rights.

 

Fairuz is the coordinator and head researcher for GHRD Africa. Her primary focus is to establish and coordinate long-term research projects regarding the differentiating human rights dealings of vulnerable and marginalized groups in continental Africa, as well as conducting individual research projects.

Priya Lachmansingh
Coordinator and Head Researcher, Political Advisor
(Asia & America)

Priya Lachmansingh is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in International & European
Law at the Hague University of Applied Science.
As GHRD’s Asia & America human rights coordinator and GHRD Political Advisor, Priya’s
prominent focus is to highlight human rights violations targeted against minority and
marginalized groups in Asia and America and to broaden GHRD reach within Dutch political
parties and as well seek domestic funding.

Jasmann Chatwal
Team Coordinator & Head Coordinator: North America

Jasmann is a political science student at Leiden University who joined GHRD in May 2021 as an intern in team Pakistan. Now, she is the team coordinator for North America and is responsible for coordinating the documentation of human rights violations in USA, Canada, and America.