Box 7.7 The Nansen Principles—a way forward?
The Nansen Conference on Climate Change and Displacement in the 21st Century was convened in June 2011 by the government of Norway, coinciding with the 150th birthday of Fridtjof Nansen, the Norwegian scientist, explorer, and humanist who was appointed High Commissioner for Refugees by the League of Nations in 1921.
The Conference in Oslo brought together experts and representatives of governments, civil society, and UN agencies to consider the humanitarian consequences of climate change. Chaired by the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, the Conference proposed the following ten Principles to guide future action, known as the ‘Nansen Principles’:
I. Responses to climate and environmentallyrelated displacement need to be informed by adequate knowledge and guided by the fundamental principles of humanity, human dignity, human rights and international cooperation.
II. States have a primary duty to protect their populations and give particular attention to the special needs of the people most vulnerable to and most affected by climate change and other environmental hazards, including the displaced, hosting communities, and those at risk of displacement. The development of legislation, policies and institutions as well as the investment of adequate resources are key in this regard.
III. The leadership and engagement of local governments and communities, civil society, and the private sector are needed to address effectively the challenges posed by climate change, including those linked to human mobility.
IV. When national capacity is limited, regional frameworks and international cooperation should support action at the national level and contribute to building national capacity, underpinning development plans, preventing displacement, assisting and protecting people and communities affected by such displacement, and finding durable solutions.
V. Prevention and resilience need to be further strengthened at all levels, particularly through adequate resources. International, regional and local actors have a shared responsibility to implement the principles enshrined in the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005–2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters.
VI. Building local and national capacity to prepare for and respond to disasters is fundamental. At the same time, the international disaster response system needs to be reinforced. The development of multi-hazard early warning systems linking local and global levels is critical.
VII. The existing norms of international law should be fully utilized, and normative gaps addressed.
VIII. The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement provide a sound legal framework to address protection concerns arising from climate—and other environmentally-related internal displacement. States are encouraged to ensure the adequate implementation and operationalization of these principles through national legislation, policies and institutions.
IX. A more coherent and consistent approach at the international level is needed to meet the protection needs of people displaced externally owing to sudden-onset disasters. States, working in conjunction with UNHCR and other relevant stakeholders, could develop a guiding framework or instrument in this regard.
X. National and international policies and responses, including planned relocation, need to be implemented on the basis of nondiscrimination, consent, empowerment, participation and partnerships with those directly affected, with due sensitivity to age, gender and diversity aspects. The voices of the displaced or those threatened with displacement, loss of home or livelihood must be heard and taken into account, without neglecting those who may choose to remain.