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International Law and Disappearing States: Utilising Maritime Entitlements to Overcome the Statehood Dilemma

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Document pages: 13 pages

Abstract: This paper examines the rules of international law relating to the establishment of maritime zones and their application in the case of sea level rise with particular reference to ‘disappearing states’. Substantive and procedural options for overcoming the presumption of the ambulatory nature of baselines are examined and the analysis applied to situations of inundation of island states by sea level encroachment. It is argued that it would be both inequitable and inconsistent with the objectives of the law of the sea for disappearing states to lose their maritime zones. A solution to the ‘disappearing state’ dilemma is suggested through adoption of a positive rule freezing baselines and through recognition of the category of ‘deterritorialised state’. It is concluded that the articulation of new rules of international law may be needed to provide stability, certainty and a future to disappearing states.

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