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Tony George Puthucherril

Abstract

With an overwhelming majority of India’s population living on the coast and depending on coastal resources for their sustenance and livelihood, sustainable coastal development is of critical importance to this country. India is also susceptible to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. This article reviews India’s attempts to manage its long coastline and coastal resources through the instrumentality of law. The salient features of its first coastal law of 1991 and the subsequent draft law of 2008, culminating with a new law adopted in 2011, are analyzed in detail. Specifically, this article examines how these laws provide for integrated coastal zone management, the primary methodology to attain sustainable coastal development, and how they further adaptation to sea level rise. The article argues that, as it stands, India’s coastal law is ineffective to further these two objectives.

Tony George Puthucherril

Abstract

This article probes the role of international law, (namely, the international law of the sea, the international rules on statehood, and international environmental law) in providing a legal and normative framework to help countries respond to the challenges brought about by sea level rise. It is noted that possible solutions can operate at two levels – first, by re-engineering existing international rules to secure continuance of the rights and privileges guaranteed under existing international law, and second, by bringing to the fore the need to develop international rules on integrated coastal zone management to facilitate the implementation of coastline armouring. The central argument here is that while new rules and principles of international law are required at both levels, the emphasis should, as a first step, be on rule development vis-à-vis integrated coastal zone management.

Tony George Puthucherril

Climate change and sea level rise are realities that are upon us and which will profoundly impact the lives and basic rights of millions of coastal residents all over the world. As the law stands both at the international and at certain national levels, the basic human rights of the climate displaced are not adequately protected. This paper identifies two possible displacement scenarios, based on the continued availability/non-availability of land in the face of sea level rise and other climate change impacts; namely, the sinking Small Island Developing States phenomeon, where land disappears and there is no surplus land to support habitation, and all other cases, where the coastal land is battered severely but it can be re-utilized through appropriate adaptation measures or even if coastal frontage land disappears there is still land available inland. On this basis, the paper proposes three possible solutions: (1) bilateral or regional treaties to facilitate resettlement of the inhabitants of sinking Small Island Developing States, (2) appropriate coastal climate change adaptation implemented via integrated coastal zone management and (3) creation of new arrangements under the international climate change regime to provide financial assistance and technological support to respond to both situations. Even though the primary focus of this paper is on coastal communities in South Asia, the lessons that it offers are relevant to other coastal contexts as well.