The Nomos of Climate Change and the Sociological Refugee in a Sinking Century

38 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2017 Last revised: 9 Apr 2019

Date Written: October 18, 2017


Disappearing island states present tip-of-the-iceberg problems for international refugee law in the Anthropocene. Coastal recissions and global inundation prospects adumbrate an assortment of environmental challenges that call into question the relevance of the Refugee Convention. Understanding the limitations of refugee law and its inability or unwillingness to confront extant gaps within its regime structure, and emergent challenges posed by climate change, require a reconsideration of the telluric underpinnings of sovereignty and the nature of the threat posed by exigent human migration. This Article employs the concept of nomos projected by the problematic but increasingly significant twentieth century international lawyer, Carl Schmitt. His biogeographic understanding of international law, inextricably tethered to the organic formation of ‘true law’ through land appropriation within the context of European history, explains limitations in international refugee law that the liberal order must first confront in order to fully operationalize the grand scheme to reframe displacement issues projected by the coming 2018 UN Global Compact on Migration.

Keywords: Refugee Convention, Small Island Developing States, Climate Change, Migration, Nomos, Carl Schmitt

Suggested Citation

Rossi, Christopher, The Nomos of Climate Change and the Sociological Refugee in a Sinking Century (October 18, 2017). 50(3) George Washington International Law Review 613-652 (2018), Available at SSRN:

Christopher Rossi (Contact Author)

University of Iowa College of Law ( email )

Melrose and Byington
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

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