The Changing Climate of International Organizations – Ricardo Blanco

The United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) has been a fundamental organization within the United Nations since its inception after World War II. Today, the UNHCR has a very different mandate since its creation 60 years ago, and this is because it has been able to adequately identify the growing problems in this world and broaden there scope. Climate refugees are in a growing number thanks to the amount of environmental disasters that have been happening in the past years thanks to the phenomenon that is climate change. Tragedies like those felt all around the Indian Ocean in 2004, which left many people dead and many others internally displayed is just a fragment of what citizens of this world are exposed to when mother nature strikes.

The need for the UNHCR to expand its mandate to include climate refugees is not completely necessary, but it would legitimize the work that is currently doing to combat this problem. According to Betts, the UNHCR has not had the necessity to expand its mandates before acting upon problems. Usually, the UNHCR expanded its “population of concern” and “activities” without the express consent of member states. Nonetheless, pressure from member states has not done much to change the organization’s point of view on different situations. Rather, other peer organizations, what Betts calls, organizations with a “horizontal relationship” with the UNHCR is where the real pressure comes from. Organizations that are in close relationship with the UNHCR and network organizations also create a demand for the UNHCR to expand there reach, according to what other organizations can and cannot do. Civil society groups may also fall into this real of “horizontal relationships” with the UNHCR. The staff of this organization will play a vital role on how this organization functions and if the implementations take place accordingly or not.

International organizations and bureaucracies are flexible, and may conform to the needs of this changing world, as many organizations have done in the past and are doing today. Beginning with a very defined geographical scope in Europe and now expanding around all our world, the UNHCR helps millions of people around the world to combat the struggles that have forcefully distanced them from their homes. Whether it be member states, civil staff, or even the UNHCR’s staff’s responsibility for the alteration of there mandate to include climate refugees, one thing is for sure, the need to provide this people with help is fundamental. Additionally, this problem (climate change and global warming) has been caused primarily by many of the primary donors to the UNHCR (the US, the European Commission, and Japan, among others), and in their hands rest the possibility of major aid for all the natural disasters that have happened and that are yet to come.


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