Regulatory treatment of environmentally displaced persons

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Woran, Johanna
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By now, natural disasters and other environmental degradations are displacing millions of people every year. Additionally, the impacts of climate change are already exacerbating – and will continue to do so in the future – the phenomenon of environmental displacement. Although most migration flows occur within the country and those who are internally displaced are covered by the protection system of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, increased transboundary movements are also expected. In fact, those individuals who are forced to leave their habitual place of residence and cross an international State border are currently not covered by any international or regional instrument and, consequently, are in need of protection. The reason thereof can be found in a lack of both a generally accepted definition of what constitutes environmentally-displaced persons and their recognition as a vulnerable group in need of international protection. Hence, after providing a tentative definition, this research paper aims at analysing the existing legal instruments of general forced migration laws as well as specific provisions and principles with a view to whether they might provide protection to cross-border environmental displacees. Finally, it will offer ways in which the identified gaps in law might be filled in order to meet the urgent protection need of environmentally-displaced persons.
Second semester University: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
displaced persons, environment