Sovereign states are so burned in to the way humans conduct business nowadays, and the affiliation to one’s own state so burned in as a cultural norm, that it’s difficult to imagine any alternative. Of course there are numerous contradictions built in to this model, but in its pervasiveness, defenses have been erected around all of them. But over time, new challenges may arise. One is the fundamental connection between sovereignty and territory.
We don’t consider the possibility of sovereignty without territory, but if a state becomes completely submerged, does the overall nation-state system retire that state, and if so, how?
Surely, I have thought. I’m not the only person whose thoughts have wandered in this direction. Indeed, it turns out that some people have been thinking about this in some detail.
13 May, 2011 – Climate change is posing new challenges to international law.
Maritime zones, uninhabitable states and climate exiles are just a few of the new consequences caused by climate change. These will affect many states, including small island developing states and low-lying coastal states.
International law must evolve to address these new threats. Lawyers globally have raised many potential solutions for each of these challenges. What now remains is to muster the political will necessary to turn potential solutions into reality.
Read FIELD’s new paper ‘Receding maritime zones, uninhabitable states and climate exiles. How international law must adapt to climate change.’