We are frustrated, and we are angry at the same time. We are victims of something we are not responsible for... I think it's about time these industrialized countries realized that these countries in the Pacific are taking the toll. We are bearing the brunt of all the gas emissions. Millions and millions of dollars are spent on wars all over the world. Can they save people like [us]? (Bernard Galie, resident of Piul, Carteret Islands, 2006)
The increasingly fashionable linkage of migration, climate change and security suggests that we are putting at risk something as important as the security challenges of climate change - the fact that we seem to be wholly replacing moral duty with perceived economic and strategic interest. Dubious policies that offer development assistance, with one hand, and restrict migration, with the other, should be challenged not only because they are ineffective but because this is a slippery slope that could lead to cessation of any kind of movement - even when severe and immediate dangers threaten people's lives. Faced with similar threats to their lives, would the people of developed nations expect a warm welcome from the vulnerable societies that they keep at arm's length today?
I am therefore inclined to agree with Franck Duvell who derives the following requirement for a just outcome:
To satisfy [moral equality and individual freedom] requires a global realization of basic rights and basic goods . and a form of cosmopolitan membership, temporary citizenship or globally obligatory and enforceable universal rights. Both would replace the need to migrate by the free choice to migrate, and would therefore certainly also reduce migration pressure. Combined, these measures have the potential to reconcile the sedentary and the mobile and would mark the only true way to global social justice and equality. (Duvell, 2003)
Regrettably, the practical implementation of such an outcome is likely to be beyond the political, social and economic appetite of the fortunate few in the West. However, as an initial step, the following recommendations are intended to feed debate on the issue in the hope that genuine progress can be made for those in fear of their 'human security' (Afzal, 2006):
• The understanding and application of the term 'migrant' or 'refugee' should be expanded to that which meets his/her 'human security'. This is 'an integrated, sustainable, comprehensive security from fear, conflict, ignorance, poverty, social and cultural deprivation, and hunger, resting upon positive and negative freedoms' (Van Ginkel and Newman, 2006).
• Adopting this 'human security' framework will bring fairness, coherence and efficacy to an otherwise disjointed policy set on aid, migration and climate change.
• Any development aid targeted at supporting developing countries to cope with the effects of climate change should not be tied by a reduced quota of permitted migrants or asylum seekers.
• The 'fear agenda' should be questioned and challenged so that the media and governments do not incite unhelpful and inaccurate slogans on immigrants.
• A concerted effort should be made to encourage positive and open debates on the issues without criminalizing migrants and their communities.
As David Miliband suggested 'it is neither practical nor, in the case of the developing world, morally justifiable to expect citizens to lower their aspirations and miss out on better living standards' (Miliband, 2007b). It is time we translate these words into action.
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