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Climate Change, Sea Level Rise And The Coming Uncertainty In Oceanic Boundaries: A Proposal To Avoid Conflict

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Chapter Summary

This Chapter focuses on how a rising sea level will create uncertainties as to the outer boundaries of the zones of valuable ocean territory and rights possessed by coastal states. Uncertainty in boundaries is undesirable and, in this instance, may foster conflicting claims to valuable ocean resources. The likelihood of such conflict may be particularly high given that this uncertainty in boundaries will arise as adaptation to climate change simultaneously stretches the resources of each state. The chapter examines this potential for conflict, the reasons that boundaries will become uncertain, and suggests avenues, both normative and institutional, whereby this uncertainty and conflict may be avoided or mitigated. It highlights those areas of the oceans that belong, to some extent, to adjacent coastal states and, in particular, concentrates on the practice of using the "law of baselines" to ascertain the outer boundary of such oceanic zones.

Keywords: climate change; coastal states; law of baselines; ocean territory; oceanic zones; rising sea level



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