it is not only a point of literal construction, but also inherent in the object and purpose of the 1951 Refugee Convention, that displaced stateless persons unable to return to their countries of former habitual residence may be eligible for refugee status even if unpersecuted. 'Unable to return' as it occurs in the clause following the semi-colon of 1(A)2 of the 1951 Refugee Convention must be understood as a term of art subject to appropriate canons of construction in its own right. Its construal must therefore be more restrictive than many commentators have suggested, though not so strict as to preclude all but persecuted persons. Then argues that, as a case study, those who are displaced from their island nations because those nations have submerged beneath the sea will count as 'unable to return' in the relevant sense, and so will qualify for Convention refugee status, if they count as lacking a nationality, i.e. as stateless.
12 September 2015
''Unable to Return' in the 1951 Refugee Convention: Stateless Refugees and Climate Change' by Heather Alexander and Jonathan Simon in (2015) 26(3) Florida Journal of International Law comments