Climate Change and Sea-Level Rise

Is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea up to the Task?

In: International Community Law Review
Vladyslav Lanovoy Associate Legal Officer, International Court of Justice

Search for other papers by Vladyslav Lanovoy in
Current site
Google Scholar
Sally O’Donnell Associate Protection Officer, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Search for other papers by Sally O’Donnell in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):



This article examines the challenges that climate change and sea-level rise pose to certain key aspects of the law of the sea. Sea-level rise is likely to impact maritime baselines, the qualification of maritime features and the entitlements they generate, and ultimately the stability of maritime boundaries, which are critical for the peaceful co-existence of sovereign States. This article examines whether some of the relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea can accommodate a liberal interpretation so as to provide some, even if incomplete, answers to the challenges posed by sea-level rise to the law of the sea regime. It is argued that the legal fiction of permanency that underpins key elements of this legal regime, and thus ignores future physical changes to coastlines, is the most appropriate temporary solution, unless and until new rules are agreed by States to deal comprehensively with sea-level rise.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 1257 258 8
Full Text Views 228 45 0
PDF Views & Downloads 558 117 1