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Journal Article

The Multi-Dimensional Emergence of Climate-Induced Migrants in Rights-Based Litigation in the Global South


Serraglio,  Diogo Andreola
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;
Submitting Corresponding Author, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

de Salles Cavedon-Capdeville,  Fernanda
External Organizations;


Thornton,  Fanny
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Serraglio, D. A., de Salles Cavedon-Capdeville, F., Thornton, F. (2024): The Multi-Dimensional Emergence of Climate-Induced Migrants in Rights-Based Litigation in the Global South. - Journal of Human Rights Practice, 16, 1, 227-247.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_29487
The article evidences to what extent rights-based climate litigation is applied as a strategy to enhance the recognition and protection of climate-induced migrants. Adopting a deduc- tive approach and desk review, the study, illustrates how climate-induced migration has been addressed by International Human Rights Law, with some attention also paid to the growing application of the right to a safe climate and climate justice. The study highlights the duties of both States and private actors in tackling the emerging climate crisis under the human rights agenda. Relevant responsibilities are framed in particular within the scope of rights-based litiga- tion dealing with the topic. We present an analysis of litigation linked to climate-induced migration that was filed before distinct international, regional, and national jurisdictions and, in doing so, propose a chronology of cases—structured in three generations—of how population movements as a result of climate change have been discussed by judicial means. The first generation relates to cases that consider the issue from the perspective of protection—in both national, regional, and international jurisdictions. The second generation emerges within general climate litigation claims, involving commitments linked to the climate agenda. In addition to raising (forced) pop- ulation movements as one of the expected impacts of climate change, such cases frequently call upon a rights-based approach. The third generation encompasses rights-based cases cen- tred on climate-induced migrants per se. The strengths and limitations of rights-based litigation to respond to the topic are finally highlighted: we conclude that litigation remains a blunt but not unpromising tool to respond to climate-induced migration. Generic references to the risk of (forced) population movements largely prevail; nevertheless, strategic rights-based litigation can facilitate the visibility of climate-induced migrants to the international community, fostering the development of legal solutions in the longer term.