Ongoing and concluded PhDs

PhD researcher or student information

Discipline: Law

Degrees BA: BA (Hons) Politics and Philosophy


LLM International Human Rights Law

PhD Research Information

Causing Forced Displacement: An Inquiry on ‘Displacing Third State (DTS)’ Responsibility

Brief description:

Displacement figures have risen to 65.3 million, there are now more displaced people in the world than ever before. It determines whether the laws of international responsibility, as expressed in the International Law Commission Articles on State Responsibility (ASR), can be relied upon to ensure State responsibility. These secondary obligations provide a framework for holding States accountable for breaches of international law by States. The approach provides a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of today’s realities of population displacement due to armed conflict. I begin by considering whether the causing of forced displacement is an international legal wrong and how this can be established. I then explore how the laws on State responsibility can be applied to hold DTSs accountable for causing such flows when they breach international law.

In Part I, the research determines whether forced displacement of populations constitutes a crime at international law. It conducts archival and doctrinal research to elucidate the content and scope of primary obligations. The section builds a picture of the parameters of the ban on causing displacement, as applied to DTS actions, under current international law. In Part II, the application of the ASR is explored. The articles determine when an international obligation has been breached and the legal consequences that follow. I use these principles to explore whether and how, through finding an internationally wrongful act attributable to a DTS, responsibility for displacement can be established. I critically analyse the specific procedural challenges raised by the elements of ‘attribution’ and ‘causation’ when the ASR regime is applied to war displacement, and how these could be overcome.


Through a legal-doctrinal methodology, drawing on a multi-doctrinal approach this thesis scrutinizes the responsibility of displacing third States (DTS) for causing forced displacement. The approach augments available literature, focusing on the responsibilities of the State of origin of the persons concerned, by centring instead on DTS responsibility. To test the methodological approach the research conducts an empirical investigation using case studies in order to apply the law on international responsibility to war displacement.

Keywords: state responsibility, international refugee law, humanitarian law, Human Rights, Forced Displacement, Criminal Law

Language(s) of writing: English

Country: United Kingdom

Home University:

Queen Mary University of London



Supervisor: Violeta Moreno-Lax
Start date: 04-09-2016
PhD current status: PhD Ongoing
PhD research funded by: Queen Mary University of London
Name of grant: Studentship
Added to catalogue on: 04-10-2018

Additional information: