'Unable to Return' in the 1951 Refugee Convention: Stateless Refugees and Climate Change

28 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2015 Last revised: 25 Sep 2015

Heather Alexander

Tilburg University

Jonathan Simon

New York University (NYU) - Department of Philosophy

Date Written: January 1, 2015

Abstract

Argues that it is not only a point of literal construction, but also inherent in the object and purpose of the 1951 Refugee Convention, that displaced stateless persons unable to return to their countries of former habitual residence may be eligible for refugee status even if unpersecuted. 'Unable to return' as it occurs in the clause following the semi-colon of 1(A)2 of the 1951 Refugee Convention must be understood as a term of art subject to appropriate canons of construction in its own right. Its construal must therefore be more restrictive than many commentators have suggested, though not so strict as to preclude all but persecuted persons. Then argues that, as a case study, those who are displaced from their island nations because those nations have submerged beneath the sea will count as 'unable to return' in the relevant sense, and so will qualify for Convention refugee status, if they count as lacking a nationality, i.e. as stateless.

Keywords: stateless, statelessness, refugee, 1951 Convention, small island states, climate change, environmental refugee

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Heather and Simon, Jonathan, 'Unable to Return' in the 1951 Refugee Convention: Stateless Refugees and Climate Change (January 1, 2015). Florida Journal of International Law, Vol. 26, No. 3, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2643925

Heather Alexander (Contact Author)

Tilburg University ( email )

Tilburg
Netherlands

Jonathan Simon

New York University (NYU) - Department of Philosophy ( email )

New York, NY
United States

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