Refugees, Migration and Climate change

Scholars, policy-makers and NGOs have suggested that climate change may trigger millions to move particularly from developing countries. Some have even called for a new treaty for ‘climate refugees’, given those displaced by climate change do not fall under the 1951 Refugee Convention. Nina’s research unpacks these claims by examining the complex links between climate change, displacement, and migration. In her book, she focuses on how the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have responded to the issue of climate change.  This is a particular puzzle for IR scholars given none of these organizations were established, nor subsequently given, a mandate to deal with the impacts of climate change.

Nina traces the changes in rhetoric, policy, structure, operations and mandate. She finds that bureaucrats within these international organizations play an important role in mandate expansion, often deciding whether and how to expand into a new issue-area and then lobbying states to endorse this expansion. She challenges mainstream views of bureaucrats as either pawns of powerful states, or automatically engaging in organizational expansion, by demonstrating how they decide to push for expansion, when they see a clear issue-linkage to their mandate. Her work contributes to IR’s understanding of organizational change, regime complexity, and debates on how international institutions are adapting to climate change.

Book Launch at Blavatnik School of Government:

Book Discussants:
Mr Sam Daws – Director, Project on UN Governance and Reform, Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford
Mr Achim Steiner – Director of the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford. Former Executive Director of the United Nations Environmental Programme.
Professor Alexander Betts – Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs, Director of the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford

Moderation: Associate Professor Tom Hale, Blavatnik School of Government

Research Presentation at Stockholm Environment Institute:


Hall, Nina. Displacement, Development and Climate Change: International Organizations Moving Beyond Their Mandates. Routledge: Abingdon, 2016.

Hall, Nina. “How IOM Reshaped its Obligations to States on Climate Change and Migration”, Chapter in Megan Bradley, Cathryn Costello & Angela Sherwood (eds), The IOM:  Obligations, Ethos and Accountability, Cambridge University Press, (forthcoming).

Hall, Nina. ‘A Catalyst for Cooperation: The Inter-Agency Standing Committee and the Humanitarian Response to Climate Change’, Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations, July – September 2016, 22 (3), 369 – 387.

Hall, Nina. ‘The Money or the Mandate? Why International Organizations Engage with the Climate Change Regime, Global Environmental Politics. 15 (2), April 2015, 79 – 97.

Hall, Nina ‘Moving Beyond its Mandate? UNHCR and Climate Change Displacement, Journal of International Organization Studies, Spring 2013, 91 – 108.