Sustainable Development Law on Environmental Migration: The Story of an Obelisk, a Bag of Marbles, and a Tapestry
Environmental Law Review, Vol. 14, No. 2, p. 111, 2012
23 Pages Posted: 11 May 2012
Date Written: May 9, 2012
No specific, consistent law deals with migration in the context of environmental phenomena (specifically of climate change) as a distinct issue. From this simple assessment, an oft-heard discourse identifies a ‘legal gap’ that should accordingly be filled through new norms specific to environmental migration. A new international treaty, in particular, would build such a normative monolith – an ‘obelisk’. However, I argue that some existing international norms may indeed play at least a partial role. The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Draft Articles on State Responsibility, among others, are part of a ‘bag of marbles’ – a collection of isolated norms that should be held together if possible. However, these isolated norms have little consistency and need to be woven together into a coherent synthesis. The nascent notion of an international sustainable development law helps us in conceiving such a ‘tapestry’ – a comprehensive analysis of a plethora of existing norms helping us to form a coherent response to the issues raised by environmental migration. Even though this cannot tackle all the issues relating to environmental migration, it should at least allow us to identify the multiple insufficiencies of international law, instead of referring simply to an incurable unique ‘legal gap’.
Keywords: environmental migration, climate refugees, sustainable development law
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