The objective of this project is to provide the first comprehensive study of the potential for international law responses in view of projections of sea-level rise in the course of the 21st century.

Fundamental challenges for international law may be on the horizon, since some core aspects of international law rely on the general stability of geographical conditions. Coastal geography, due to its perceived general stability, is taken as a key objective circumstance in determining the rights of states to maritime zones, as well as in resolving maritime delimitation disputes. A defined territory and a permanent population are among the basic criteria of statehood under international law. In not too distant future, important questions may arise about the sustainability of those aspects of international law. Moreover, the consequences of sea-level rise for the population, especially of some low-lying island states, may raise new dimensions of human rights. Those and other developments are related to the overall context of the onset of the Anthropocene and are likely to require profound re-examination of some currently-accepted paradigms of international law.

This interdisciplinary cooperative research project involves scholars in international law and in natural science (geology/stratigraphy), including officials and several members of the International Committee on International Law and Sea Level Rise of the International Law Association and of the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Commission on Stratigraphy.

Related websites:
International Committe on International Law and Sea Level Rise
Anthropocene Working Group

Project period: 2014-2019

Project team: *
Professor David Freestone
Professor Jane McAdam
Professor Carlos Esposito Massicci
Professor Rosemary Rayfuse
Dr. Alejandra Torres Camprubí
Professor Colin Waters
Professor Mark Williams
Professor Jan Zalasiewicz

* Project team listed here includes main Project Investigators at the international cooperating partner institutions, who are in the course of the project also FNI Associated Senior Fellows.


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  • Research Council of Norway (KLIMAFORSK Programme)