The occurrence of a natural hazard event is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for the unfolding of a ‘natural’ disaster. Disasters result when individuals and communities are exposed and vulnerable to natural hazards, such as droughts, floods and earthquakes. In their turn, exposure and vulnerability are social facts that are often closely correlated with discrimination, for example against women, children, older people, persons with disabilities, as well as for reasons of race, religion, nationality or political opinion. Adopting the perspective that sees disasters as socially constructed in this way, the scope of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees appears wider than has been acknowledged in prevailing authoritative interpretations, which have not explored in depth the possibility of discriminatory ill-treatment beneath the brute force of nature. Using the experience of acute food insecurity as an example, this paper demonstrates that, in addition to already recognised scenarios involving the intentional infliction of hunger by state agents, refugee status may be appropriately recognised in scenarios involving denial of the right to food where the state is either unable or unwilling to protect individuals from the serious impacts of acute food insecurity. The existing and potential future adverse impacts of climate change entail more frequent and intense natural hazard events, so an understanding of disaster related harm is expected to become increasingly important.
- Food Security,
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/matthew_scott/9/