Sea Level Rise and Climate Statelessness

From 'Too Little, Too Late' to Context-Based Relevance

  • Michel Rouleau-Dick Åbo Akademi University
Keywords: statehood, statelessness, climate change, climate statelessness, climate displacement, low-lying island states, legal status


Several low-lying island states currently risk the loss of their entire territory before the end of the century. Combined with the inadequacy of the existing framework of international refugee law to address the challenges faced by those displaced, this situation has made the law on statelessness an interesting candidate for securing an alternative path to obtaining a legal status in a post-relocation context. However, while several authors have examined this possibility, the majority conclude that it fails in its putative task by providing too little, and by coming into play too late to be of any significant relevance to the situation of environmentally displaced persons in low-lying island states. This article challenges this narrative by re-examining the relevance of the law on statelessness along with the context within which it might have to play a role.

How to Cite
Rouleau-Dick, M. (2021). Sea Level Rise and Climate Statelessness. The Statelessness & Citizenship Review, 3(2), 286-308. Retrieved from