1 1Assistant Professor of International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Athens Co-chair of the Mediterranean Sea Sub-Group, Specialist Group on Oceans, Coasts and Coral Reefs, Commission on Environmental Law, IUCN
True to its venerable tradition, the Mediterranean system seems poised to embark on a new attempt at innovation. Within the first few months of 2008, we have celebrated the adoption of the much-awaited new protocol on integrated coastal zone management in the Mediterranean and we have witnessed a number of mutually reinforcing initiatives, coming from both the neighbourhood, especially the European Union, and from afar, including financial organisations such as the World Bank. They are all designed, if not to reverse, then at least to prevent the threat to biodiversity from accelerating. In essence, the wider Mediterranean community is moving beyond the traditional allocation of state jurisdiction at sea and expanding both landwards, towards the coast, and seawards, towards the high seas. In so doing, it is developing and making use of new tools for environmental protection, challenging and perhaps redesigning in the process the traditional jurisdictional tenets of the law of the sea. This paper will attempt to map these developments and come up with a first assessment of their prospects, given the daunting structural and financial deficiencies of the system.