Marcello Di Filippo

The Protection of Environmental Migrants in the Dialogue Between International Law and the Italian Legal Order

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The paper focuses on the issue of transnational migrations connected to natural disasters, environmental degradation, and climate change, in order to discuss the growing relevance recognized in international human rights law to the protection needs of persons displaced due to the aforementioned factors. After having described the basic human rights that may be put at risk and the subsequent triggering of the non-refoulement guarantee, the attention will be drawn to the Italian legal order, particularly open to international law thanks to the Constitution and in its living interpretation. It will be explained that at the domestic level, Italian law is equipped with more than one legal basis fit for offering a complementary protection to environmental migrants in a vulnerable situation. In particular, the potentiality of the ‘special protection’ and of the residence permit for ‘calamitous events’ will be explored, having regard to the constitutional and legislative framework and to the interesting signals coming from administrative and judicial practice. All this invites to a broader reflection about the limited capacity of pro tempore policy makers of altering in a substantive way the width of the protection afforded by international and constitutional legal obligations.


  • non-refoulement
  • environmental migrants
  • disasters and climate change
  • right to life with dignity
  • prohibition of torture
  • basic human rights
  • international protection
  • complementary protection


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