Sinking States, in Property in Land and Other Resources

Author: Katrina Wyman

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This chapter examines whether the citizens of states that become submerged due to climate change have a legal right to resettle in the territory of another country. It argues that citizens of sinking states should have a right to relocate to higher ground under international law, though it is unlikely that such a right would be recognized under existing law. The chapter finds support for its normative argument for a right to relocate in the historical concept of a “right to safe haven” in foreign territories, which was acknowledged by leading scholars of the age of discovery and continues to be relevant today. The chapter concludes by describing how the right to safe haven might be implemented in practice.

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