Macquarie University
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Environmental migration in the Pacific: resettlement and legal frameworks for protection

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posted on 2022-03-28, 18:55 authored by Gil Marvel P. Tabucanon
Environmental migration is not a new phenomenon in the Pacific. Pacific Islanders have moved across great distances in the past and environmental threats have been among the triggers. However, long-term climatic processes suggest that environmental migration will increase over the coming years. The Pacific region, with its low-elevation island nations, is particularly vulnerable to environmental challenges, and is predicted to be among the areas where the adverse effects of environmental change will be felt most keenly. This thesis examines the role of law and legal policy towards migration and protection of environmental migrants in the Pacific. Its aim is twofold: to identify admission opportunities for Pacific environmental migrants in Pacific Rim countries, and to explore avenues for protecting the culture and identity of resettled migrants in their host communities. The study is a multidisciplinary thesis by publication, comprising seven articles that have been published or accepted for publication. The first two explore migration opportunities, while the other five are case studies corresponding to what the thesis claims to be attempted (Nauru), failed (Bikini) and successful (Banaba) cases of resettlement in the Pacific. The thesis adopts a range of methodologies, including doctrinal analysis, archival work and qualitative interviews. The thesis concludes that, absent an international regime, the most pragmatic approach for dealing with environmentally-displaced peoples in the Pacific is through a liberal implementation of domestic migration policies. Additionally, the promotion of minority rights and the protection of the collective identity of environmental migrants in their host societies are critical components of successful long-term resettlement


Table of Contents

Part I. The background. Chapter 1. Introduction; Research questions; Significance of the study; Methodology; Literature review; Conceptual frameworks; Thesis outline. -- -- Part II. The articles and case studies. -- Chapter 2. Migration for environmentally displaced Pacific peoples: legal options in the Pacific Rim -- Chapter 3. Pacific environmental migration in a warming world: is there an obligation beyond state borders -- Chapter 4. The resettlement of Nauruans in Australia: an early case of failed environmental migration -- Chapter 5. Protection for resettled island populations: the Bikini resettlement and its implications for Pacific environmental migration -- Chapter 6. The Banaban resettlement: implications for Pacific environmental migration -- Chapter 7. Social and cultural protection for environmentally displaced populations: Banaban minority rights in Fiji -- Chapter 8. Continuity and change: identity among later-generation Banabans. -- -- Part III. Conclusion -- Chapter 9. Introduction; Findings on the research questions; Key research findings and research implications -- Conclusion.


"This thesis is presented for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Macquarie Law School, Macquarie University - Sydney, Australia". Includes bibliographical references Thesis by publication. "2013"

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, School of Law, Macquarie University, Australia

Department, Centre or School

School of Law

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Brian Opeskin


Copyright Gil Marvel P. Tabucanon 2014. Copyright disclaimer:




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