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A Preliminary Study of the Problem of the Isle of Kolbeinsey

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image of Nordic Journal of International Law

The diversity of modes of acquisition of territory is a well researched topic in international law, but little has been written on the possibilities of divestment of a title to territory. Natural changes of coastal formations can divest the coastal State of some area of land and maritime territory and greatly affect its national economy. An illustrative case is the phenomenon of erosion by sea of offshore islands. This study is particularly focused on one such case concerning an uninhabited Icelandic islet, Kolbeinsey. The vanishing of the islet is aggravating existing concerns about the allocation of fish stocks in the area, and there will arise the problem of loss of varioius maritime zones pertaining to the islet and to the Icelandic mainland. This paper will examine the way in which Iceland may continue to enjoy the whole or part of the extant jurisdiction in the Kolbeinsey area. Issues to be addressed include those as to whether Kolbeinsey is a juridical island and whether the concepts of artificial islands and low-tide elevations are helpful in the instant case.

Affiliations: 1: Wolfson College, Oxford


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