Disappearing Island States in International Law

Several low-lying atoll island states are at risk of losing their entire territory due to climate change-induced sea level rise. In Disappearing Island States in International Law, Jenny Grote Stoutenburg examines the most relevant and pressing international legal questions facing threatened island states: at which point would a sovereign state disappear? Who could make that determination? Which legal status would its citizens have? What would happen to the state’s maritime entitlements and its international rights and obligations? Does international law protect the international legal personality of states that lose their effective statehood for reasons beyond their control? In answering these questions, the book goes to the root of a fundamental problem of international law: the nature of statehood.

Prices from (excl. shipping):

Add to Cart
Dr. Jenny Grote Stoutenburg, LL.M. (University of Cologne); Maître en Droit (Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne) is an Associate Legal Officer at the International Court of Justice. She has published various articles on international environmental law and small island states and is a co-editor of the volume Enhancing the Rule of Law through the International Court of Justice (Brill | Nijhoff, 2014).

List of Abbreviations
Table of Treaties
Part I. Fathoming the Waters
1. Small Island States and the Threat of Anthropogenic Climate Change
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Historical Overview: The Changing Tides of Small Island States Discourse
1.2.1 1972-1982: Developing Island Countries and the Overcoming of Structural Barriers to Socioeconomic Development
1.2.2 1983-1992: Island Developing Countries and the Flagging Momentum for Support to Development
1.2.3 Since 1992: Small Island Developing States and Sustainable Development in the Face of Climate Change
1.2.4 Conclusion
1.3 The Impacts of Climate Change and Sea Level Rise on Small Island States
1.3.1 Predictions of Sea Level Rise by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
1.3.2 The Vulnerability of Small Island States to the Effects of Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments by the IPCC Key Impacts and Vulnerabilities
1.3.3 Adaptation Strategies Retreat Accommodation Protection
1.3.4 The Risk of Island Abandonment
1.4 The Climate Regime – An Inadequate Response to the Concerns of Small Island States
1.4.1 The UNFCCC
1.4.2 The Kyoto Protocol and Beyond
1.4.3 Conclusion
Part II. Maritime Entitlements
2. The Effect of Sea Level Rise on the Maritime Entitlements of Small Island States
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Island States in the International Law of the Sea
2.2.1 The Silence of the Law of the Sea Regarding Island States
2.2.2 Archipelagic States
2.2.3 The Regime of Islands Islands Rocks
2.2.4 Low-Tide Elevations
2.3 The Maritime Zones of Islands
2.3.1 The Territorial Sea
2.3.2 Archipelagic Waters
2.3.3 The Continental Shelf The Definition and Outer Limits of the Continental Shelf The Stability of Outer Continental Shelf Limits
2.3.4 The EEZ
2.4 The Shrinking of Maritime Zones Due to Sea Level Rise
2.4.1 The Law of Baselines
2.4.2 The Ambulatory Nature of Baselines Art 7 (2) UNCLOS Art 76 (9) UNCLOS Conclusion
2.4.3 The Stabilizing Effect of Maritime Delimitation Agreements or Judicial Dispute Settlements Maritime Delimitation Agreements Judicial Dispute Settlements
2.4.4 The Shrinking of Undelimited Maritime Zones Low-Tide Elevation Disappears Rock Disappears Reef Disappears An Island Forming Part of an Island Group Disappears
2.4.5 From Island to Rock or Low-Tide Elevation? From Island to Rock From Island to Low-Tide Elevation
2.5 The Loss of Maritime Zones Due to State Extinction
2.5.1 The Loss of Maritime Zones through the Loss of International Legal Personality
2.5.2 Possible Strategies to Preserve International Legal Personality The Artificial Protection or Replacement of Island Territory Strategies Involving another State
2.6 Conclusion
3. A New Regime of Stable Maritime Zones
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Desirability and Challenges of a New Regime of Stable Maritime Zones
3.2.1 ‘The Land Dominates the Sea’: The Entitlement to Maritime Zones Depends on Title to Territory
3.2.2 The Challenge of Adequate Management
3.2.3 The Spatial and Temporal Scope of Stabilization
3.3 Unilateral Strategies Providing for Stable Maritime Zones
3.3.1 Physical: Artificial Protection of the Coastline
3.3.2 Factual: ‘Masterly Inactivity’
3.3.3 Contractual: Maritime Boundary Delimitation Agreements
3.3.4 Historical: Invocation of the Historic Waters Doctrine
3.3.5 Progressive: Working Towards a New Rule of Customary International Law
3.4 Collective Implementation Mechanisms of a New Regime of Stable Maritime Zones
3.4.1 Implementation Agreement on Sea Level Rise Precursors The New Rule of Stable Maritime Zones Capacity-Building Fund The Institutional Process of Stabilizing Maritime Zones Provisions for Disputed Areas The Challenge of Achieving (Quasi-)Universal Participation
3.4.2 UN General Assembly Resolution on Stable Maritime Zones Precursors Content Legal Effect
3.5 Stable Maritime Zones and ‘Deterritorialized’ States
3.6 Conclusion
Part III. State Extinction and Continuity
4. When Do States Disappear? Thresholds of Effective Statehood
4.1 States in International Law
4.2 The Loss of Effective Statehood through Sea Level Rise
4.2.1 Defined Territory
4.2.2 Permanent Population
4.2.3 Government The Minimum Level of Effectiveness of In Situ Governments Delocalized Governments: Governments in Exile
4.2.4 Independence
4.3 Conclusion
5. Who Determines Whether an Island State Has Disappeared?
5.1 The Competence to Determine State Extinction
5.2 Individual States
5.3 The Community of States
5.4 The Organized International Community: the United Nations
5.5 Conclusion
6. The Continued Recognition of ‘Deterritorialized’ Island States
6.1 Introduction
6.2 A Duty of Continued Recognition of ‘Deterritorialized’ Island States Based on Considerations of Legality?
6.2.1 The Influence of Considerations of Legality on the Recognition of States Legality Defined: Peremptory Norms of Jus cogens Ineffective Entities Created in Accordance with Jus cogens Effective Entities Created in Violation of Jus cogens Effective Entities Extinguished in Violation of Jus cogens
6.2.2 Fundamental Norms Possibly Affected By the Disappearance of Small Island States The Right to Self-Determination Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources Fundamental Human Rights The Fundamental Right to ‘State Survival’ The Prohibition of the Massive Pollution of the Atmosphere
6.2.3 Serious Breach of a Peremptory Norm? Attribution Breach of an Obligation Seriousness of the Breach Art 31 DASR Conclusion
6.2.4 Conclusion
6.3 Continued Recognition of ‘Deterritorialized’ Island States Based on Considerations of International Justice and Solidarity
6.3.1 The Contents of ‘Deterritorialized’ Statehood
6.3.2 The Maintenance of International Legal Personality
6.3.3 ‘Deterritorialized’ Statehood Under International Oversight?
6.3.4 Implementing ‘Deterritiorialized’ Statehood
6.3.5 The Lifespan of ‘Deterritorialized’ States
6.3.6 Conclusion
7. The Consequences of State Extinction versus Continued Existence as a ‘Deterritorialized’ State or Legal Entity Sui Generis
7.1 Three Possible Scenarios
7.2 The Fate of the People
7.2.1 Histories of Forced Relocation in the Pacific and Indian Ocean Regions
7.2.2 The Legal Status of Environmentally Displaced Persons
7.2.3 The Island State Ceases to Exist
7.2.4 The ‘Deterritorialized’ Island State Enjoys Continued Recognition
7.2.5 The Island State Survives as a Legal Entity Sui Generis
7.3 Membership in International Organizations
7.4 The Fate of Treaty Obligations
7.5 The Fate of State Assets and Debts
7.6 Conclusion
Summary and Conclusion: The Limits of Ex Post Solidarity in the Context of Climate Change

Scholars and students engaging with the effects of climate change on public international law, as well as affected stakeholders, policymakers and civil society initiatives supporting the cause of threatened island states.
  • Collapse
  • Expand