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Jolanda van der Vliet 'Better International Protection Environmental Refugees'

On Thursday 7 May, Jolanda van der Vliet obtained her PhD based on her dissertation 'The International Protection of Environmental Refugees. A human rights-based, security and State responsibility approach.' The defence was held online. Jolanda worked on her dissertation under the supervision of the Leiden University Dual PhD Centre. PhD Supervisors: Prof.dr. N.J. Schrijver and Prof.dr.ir. J.J.C. Voorhoeve.

The number of people forced to leave their homes behind because of environmental degradation is higher than the number of people forced to flee as a result of war. Up until now, international law has not been able to provide sufficient starting points to enforce adequate help for this vulnerable group. The dissertation provides an analysis of the extend in which existing international regulations, such as human rights, migration rights, liability law, can be applied to environmental refugees and how the various legal branches can be combined to provide better and more coherent protection. It is relevant to note that in many cases migration could be prevented entirely by taking preliminary actions and that the country of origin is a valuable partner in these situations.  
The dissertation provides insight into various legal strategies, given that choosing the correct legal strategy can contribute to helping provide protection for environmental refugees both prior to, during, as well as after their forced migration. The dissertation also provides insight into the various types of environmental migrations that are currently falling through the cracks of the available protection regimes. 

Most Important Research Conclusions

The protection of environmental refugees is a global affair that demands that developed countries assist developing countries with the protection of environmental refugees that have fled internally or regionally. 
Because of the many manifestations in environmental refugees, a made-to-measure approach needs to be found in all these situations, in which a hybrid approach needs be taken in order to connect with various international legal sources. 

Digital PhD Defence

Due to the Corona crisis, all defences are conducted online. Van der Vliet: 'Having to defend my PhD digitally definitely didn't feel as if it was a less serious or less official affair. Thanks to the members of the opposition committee, who were willing to take the time during this difficult period to question me from their homes, it turned out to be a very satisfying final ending. Afterwards there was an elaborate 'Zoom drinks' with food being delivered by a local restaurant. All Corona-proof but still very enjoyable. Although, obviously, proper drinks would have been more festive, all in all it was a wonderful day.'

Obtaining a dual PhD with assistance of the Dual PhD Centre

The Dual PhD Centre facilitates promotion research at Leiden University: the Dual PhD programme of the Dual PhD Centre provides professionals with the chance to devote some of their working hours on PhD research. Focussing on a theme derived from professional practice. During their PhD research candidates are intensively supervised to enable them to obtain their PhD effectively and successfully. 

Van der Vliet combined her PdH with her job at the University of Applied Sciences The Hague, where she teaches International and Migration Law. 'The dual phd track is a challenge in combination with teaching courses, because in education there are a lot of short term deadlines while writing a dissertation is all about long term deadlines. It's important to find the right balance.'

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