International Migration Regimes: Understanding Environmental Exemption

  • Tomáš BrunerEmail author


The chapter focuses on an absence of any international regime that would regulate environmental migration. The absent (non-)regime is described and illustrated on respective court decisions in case of migrants from small island states (‘SIDS’) that are endangered by sea-level rise and often called ‘sinking islands’. The absent regime of environmental migration is compared to the existing strong global regulatory regime of statutory refugees and the weak regulatory regime of asylum seekers—war migrants. Its absence is paradoxical, because environmental problems can generate significant waves of migrants. The chapter explains this absence on case of small islands states by using the approach of the third generation of IR regime scholars. The emergence of any regime has been prevented by the fact that the environmental migration has been framed by five different narratives. Those narratives collide with each other; they entail different perceptions of ecological migrants and normative requirements. Those differences hinder any agreement on the character of the regime. The narratives are: narrative of territorial sovereignty reiterating Westphalian order; narrative of disappearing paradise; narrative of expert approach and scientific analysis; narrative of security threat; and narrative of neoliberal resilience.


Environmental migration International law Regulation Sea-Level rise Refugees Asylum 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Political StudiesCharles UniversityPragueCzech Republic

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