‘Disappearing States’, Statelessness, and Relocation
This chapter provides a measured response to some of the ill-informed notions circulating in the literature by: examining empirical evidence about projected climate change impacts on Kiribati and Tuvalu, in conjunction with preexisting environmental and socio-economic stressors; analysing the position in international law with respect to State continuity and extinction; demonstrating why people who may move from affected small island States would be unlikely to be regarded as ‘stateless persons’ as a matter of international law, and where the protection gaps arise; examining why proposals for en masse relocation of national groups to other States is problematic from the perspective of human rights law; and examining alternative constructs for the maintenance of nationhood, such as self-governance in free association with another State, as a means of preserving culture, identity, and community. The chapter posits that considering these issues now, while there is time to enhance mechanisms for planned, pre-emptive movement, could provide greater certainty and predictability for the future and prevent displacement.
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