Groningen Journal of International Law

International Law Under Construction


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Would it be useful if the UN Security Council were to Establish a Climate Change Court or Tribunal?

By Prof. Shirley Scott| s.scott@unsw.edu.au 

As evidence mounts that diplomacy will likely prove inadequate for achieving the necessary mitigation – or adaptation for that matter, there is increasing preparedness to explore alternative governance mechanisms. Indeed, those people already most significantly threatened by climate change, such as the inhabitants of the Small Island Developing States in the Pacific, are already prepared to supplement, if not replace, the UNFCCC diplomatic process with decisive action by the UN Security Council. Continue reading


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Climate change and human rights: The Torres Strait Islanders’ claim to the UN Human Rights Committee

By Dr Miriam Cullen

In May 2019, a group of eight Torres Strait Islanders, with legal representation from Client Earth, submitted a claim to the UN Human Rights Committee (UN HRC) alleging that Australia’s contribution to emissions together with its failure to establish adequate adaptation measures violates their human rights. The claim is legally significant as it is the first lodged with the UN HRC by island inhabitants threatened by climate change. It is also the first instance of climate change litigation based in human rights law against the Australian Government. The filings remain confidential, but this blog post sketches the possible parameters of the claim, drawing on a journal article I published last year. Continue reading


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Addressing the Protection Gap of Environmental Refugees: A Reform of the 1951 Refugee Convention?

By Jenny Poon, University of Western Ontariojpoonlaw@gmail.com

I. Introduction

A protection gap currently exists under international refugee law in that the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (Refugee Convention), the international convention which recognises and offers protection for refugees, does not recognise those fleeing from the effects of climate change as refugees. The protection regime under the Refugee Convention is therefore not applicable to those fleeing from the impacts of climate change, resulting in those fleeing across international borders being denied access to the territory of the State where they are fleeing to. This blog post briefly examines why this protection gap must be addressed, including how international refugee law and the Refugee Convention may be reformed to protect these environmental refugees. Continue reading