International Law and the Convergence of Two Epochs: Sea-Level Rise and the Law of the Sea for the Anthropocene

In H.N. Scheiber, C. Esposito, J. Kraska and M.-S. Kwon (eds), Ocean Law and Policy: 20 Years under UNCLOS. Leiden/Boston, Brill Nijhoff, 2016, pp. 101-123.

This chapter briefly addresses, first, the relevance of the Anthropocene perspective for the current international law in general; and second, the Anthropocene manifestation of sea-level rise and its possible impact on the architecture of the law of the sea as it developed over the past centuries and as we know it today. Coastlines now form the key objective circumstance for generation of rights of coastal states to maritime zones. With variable (and shrinking) coastlines that are being affected by global climate change, however, profound re-examination of international law may be required to recast such concepts and the legitimacy of existing territorial claims and even basic notions of human rights.