198 Benoît Mayer
As a large country with a small population, Mongolia
is facing many social issues.
done to guarantee a fair and equitable redistribution; inequalities are rapidly
rising. Each year, tens of thousands of people move from Mongolia’s countryside
to Ulaanbaatar, its capital. There, they settle in the ‘ger’ districts,
suburbs already inhabited by 300,000 migrants from the last decade. Isolated from
the economic growth of the city center, the dwellers of the ger districts often have
no running water, sewage or electricity, and strive to access public services such
communal heating system available in the central districts) is the main cause of
extremely high levels of air pollution in the valley of Ulaanbaatar during the long
To understand this migration, one needs to first explore the historical
This research will analyse three different political narratives on Mongolia’s
internal migration from the viewpoint of international law. This paper is composed
’s international trade and development partners.
These narratives are not only explanatory, but also normative. By attributing
migration to a ‘cause,’ each of them ascribes responsibility to specific actors and
for all States to recognize their responsibility vis-à-vis Mongolian ‘climate migrants’
in accordance with the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” in
international environmental law. The political narrative underscores Mongolia’s
own responsibilities under international human rights law, in particular with regard
to social and economic rights and the prohibition of discriminations. The geopolitical
1 By ‘Mongolia,’ the author refers to the sovereign State of Mongolia (Outer Mongolia).
2 The ‘ger’ (yurt) is the traditional tent in which the Mongolian nomads live. Many destitute internal migrants settle
around Ulaanbaatar in their ‘ger,’ hence the name ‘ger districts.’
3 Other internal migrants become artisanal miners, often living in drastic conditions. Interview of Coralie Grielle,
volunteer in international cooperation, in Ulaanbaatar (Apr. 1, 2013).
10-student-Benoit Mayer(197-220).indd 198 2014-05-23 오후 2:38:12