Mass migration as a way of adapting to climate change impact is not new. However, the total migration of a permanent
population from a defined territory as a coping response to the impact of climate change is only emerging. The development
in such territories as the Marshall Islands raises a fresh concern about the possibility of total migration of a
population from the territory which they have long occupied as a state, a development which has implications for low
lying states in Africa such as Sao Tome and Principe and Madagascar which may stand the risk of submergence due to
global warming. Yet, increase in sea level is not the only occurrence that may result in total migration of a population.
The removal of a population from a defined territory may also be in response to other impacts including water availability,
food security, health and extreme weather condition. When the whole population of a defined state totally migrates,
it highlights the centrality of human survival to the topic of climate change. More importantly, it poses certain
questions in international life namely, whether a whole population forced to leave in another territory still retain a
claim to statehood? Equally too, it introduces the concept of climate induced migration as a factor to be considered in
evaluating the legal status for refugeehood.
The Convention was adopted at the United Nations Headquarters, New
New York on May 9, 1992. In accordance with Article 20, it was open
for signature at Rio de Janeiro from 4 to 14 June 1992, and thereafter at
the United Nations Headquarters, New York, from 20 June 1992 to 19
June 1993. By that date, the Convention had received 166 signatures.