Climate change-related disasters and human displacement: towards an effective management system

Among the negative effects of climate change, human displacement is one of the most complex to face, since it encompasses extremely delicate political topics, such as migration, protection of people in need and liability for climate change damage. This paper, consisting of three sections, aims to critically analyse the existing legal framework and to provide some suggestions for its reform. In the first part, a conceptual background will be provided for the understanding of the connections between climate change and migration (leading to the phenomenon of the so-called “climate refugees”). The second part aims at showing that the legal instruments that may (potentially) protect affected persons are, as a matter of fact, currently not up to the task. This is because of various reasons and, above all, due to the historical novelty of climate change. Hence, also bearing in mind that migration fluxes are expected to significantly increase as a result of climate change-related disasters, it is argued that the international community should create and implement a system for the management of the phenomenon, with the overall objective of protecting the basic rights of the affected people. The last section proposes some changes to the current rules so to make the protection of displaced persons more effective. On the one hand, in the following decades, the most involved countries should adopt dedicated migration policies designed to prevent massive forced migrations; on the other hand, the international community should craft, on different levels, new legal protection instruments.