Beyond occupation : protected persons and the expiration of obligations
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ILSA Journal of international and comparative law, Vol. 17, no. 2, Spring 2011, p. 417-435
Under certain circumstances, stateless persons, for example, may find themselves in a situation akin to refugees, but due to occupation, have no (in any case not anymore) country of their own, and not being able to cross borders they would not qualify as persons fleeing their country of origin in terms of the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. On the other hand, being confined to an occupied territory and thus being prevented from moving, they would not fit the description of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) either. "Climate refugees" are a special sort of migrant, akin to IDPs when displaced within their own country due to catastrophic conditions. However, climate change knows no frontiers and hence, "climate refugees" often have to cross into another country in order to escape from life threatening conditions. Yet, once crossing an international border, they are no longer IDPs, but neither are they refugees under the Refugee Convention, as "climate" today is not a (Refugee) Convention ground of persecution. Even where the Convention's refugee definition applies, or where, for example, a legitimate claim to designation as protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention (Geneva IV) may be made, the rules governing the granting of the respective status, its duration, and the expiration of such obligations are at best blurry. This article has a main focus on state responsibility for convention refugees in times of-and beyond-occupation; juxtaposing their designation and states' post-conflict obligations with the ones accorded to protected persons under Geneva IV as the two groups of "persons to be protected" perhaps the most directly affected by, and depending on, actions by foreign states.