Ongoing and concluded PhDs

PhD researcher or student information

Hélène Ragheboom

Contact email:

Discipline: Law

Degrees BA: Master’s degree (maîtrise) of International Law, Paris II - Assas, France


LL.M in International Human Rights Law, Faculty of Law - Raoul Wallenberg Institute (RWI), Lund, Sweden

PhD Research Information

The International Legal Status and Protection of Environmentally-Displaced Persons: A European Perspective

Brief description:

The thesis addresses the legal protection and status of environmentally-displaced persons, from a European perspective. The aim of the research was to understand whether persons who, being outside their country of origin, are unable or unwilling to return due to the severe degradation of their living environment in that country could or, in the negative, should receive international protection in Europe. To this end, the author considered the different branches of the concept of international protection. She analysed refugee law – in particular, the 1951 Refugee Convention, the European Union Qualification Directive and asylum law and practice in EU Member States – but also relevant norms of international human rights law as well as elements of international humanitarian law.

Concerned with addressing and overcoming the initially identified stumbling block, she sought, in the first Chapter, to better apprehend how and to what extent the different forms of complementary protection available in the EU protect individuals fleeing indiscriminate threats to their lives or persons (Chapter I).
The second chapter analyses the existing international protection regime as it is implemented within the European Union through the prism of environmentally-related displacement. Are refugee law and human rights law fit to address the protection needs of environmentally-displaced persons? In other words, de lege lata, could environmentally-displaced persons who apply for international protection in an EU Member State benefit refugee status or any form of complementary protection (Chapter II)? The author conclude from this analysis that, as it currently reads and is interpreted, law does not provide suitable solutions, if any, to persons forced to move by reason of threats to their lives or persons emanating from a degraded or deteriorating environment.
This unfortunate conclusion, together with the scientific consensus on the impacts of climate change on the Earth environment, hurriedly calls for the development of a new framework. A number of means can be explored to tackle the issue of displacement caused by environmental factors, ranging from constructive interpretations of existing norms to the preferable creation of a sui generis regime (Chapter III).


Keywords: Climate Change, climate change refugees, ECHR, EU migration and asylum policy, European Convention on Human Rights, european union, European Union Law, Human Rights, international law, Migration and Asylum Law, non-refoulement, Qualification Directive, Refugee, Temporary Protection, subsidiary protection, complementary protection, non-refoulement, adaptation, Nansen Initiative, Disaster displacement, Environmental displacement, Natural disasters, Catastrophes

Language(s) of writing: English

Country: Luxembourg

Home University:

University of Luxembourg


Faculty of Law

Supervisor: Jörg Gerkrath
Start date: 01-10-2008
(Expected) date of completion 03-11-2012
PhD research funded by: FNR Luxembourg
Name of grant:
Added to catalogue on: 23-10-2018

Additional information: