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Implementing a New Regime of Stable Maritime Zones to Ensure the (Economic) Survival of Small Island States Threatened by Sea-Level Rise

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Some low-lying small island states are in danger of being rendered uninhabitable or even completely submerged by climate change-induced sea-level rise. However, even before their physical destruction, the socio-economic viability of small island states might be compromised by the current design of the law of the sea which provides for ambulatory baselines and maritime limits and thus the shrinking of maritime zones with sea-level rise. This article examines the legal avenues open to small island and other interested states to permanently fix their maritime zones. Concluding that unilateral strategies are inadequate, it proposes the adoption of coordinated responses such as an Implementation Agreement on Sea-Level Rise or a UN General Assembly resolution on stable maritime zones and explores the precedential basis, scope and possible content of these collective implementation mechanisms for a new regime of stable maritime zones.

Affiliations: 1: University of California Berkeley, CA USA


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