College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

International Studies


environmentally displaced persons, climate change, forced migration, international law, post-sovereignty


This thesis analyses the impact of natural and anthropogenic environmental disruptions in the dynamics of migration as well as its social, legal and political implications in the context of disasters and climate change. The complex case of environmentally displaced persons is examined and the capacity of existing international legal frameworks to address the needs of these group is reviewed. In this scenario, the study explores gaps and limitations of contemporary international law that directly relates to environmentally-induced displacement and concludes that the current international law regime is insufficient to protect environmentally displaced persons. Additionally, the thesis critically evaluates to what extent the power of sovereignty in the international system has been used as a justification by many states for exempting themselves from responsibilities associated to climate change-induced mobility. The thesis argues that there is an urgent need to develop an international legal protection framework applicable to environmentally displaced persons. In order to address this existing void, the study further discusses the establishment of a specific legally binding convention on the rights of environmentally displaced persons as a promising solution to filling this critical gap in international law.