Geographical Change and the Law of the Sea

ISBN : 9780198743644

Kate Purcell
336 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Dec 2019
Oxford Monographs in International Law
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This book examines the implications of geographical change for maritime jurisdiction under the law of the sea. In a multistranded intervention, it challenges existing accounts of the consequences of climate-related change for entitlement to maritime space, maritime limits, and international maritime boundaries. It also casts new light on the question of whether a loss of habitable land and large-scale population displacement will precipitate a loss of territorial sovereignty and the legal 'extinction' of affected States.
This study of the legal significance of geographical change is grounded in an in-depth study of the role of geography in the law of the sea. As well as offering a new perspective on the pressing question of how climate change will affect maritime jurisdiction, territorial sovereignty, and Statehood, the book contributes to the scholarship on maritime delimitation and international boundaries generally (on land and at sea). It includes an analysis of the principle of intertemporal law that suggests a useful framework for considering questions of stability and change in international law more broadly.
This rigorous and original study will be of value to anyone concerned with the implications of climate-related change for maritime jurisdiction, territorial sovereignty, and Statehood. Its broader analysis of the existing law and engagement with a range of doctrinal debates through the lens of the question of geographical change will be of interest to scholars and practitioners of the law of the sea, the law of territory, and the law relating to international boundaries.





1. Geography in the Law of the Sea

2. UNCLOS and the 'Ambulatory Thesis'

3. Article 7(2) and the Special Case of Deltaic Coasts

4. The Permanent Limits of the Continental Shelf

5. Fluidity in Maritime Boundaries: The Law of the Sea Treaties

6. Principles and Presumptions in an Assessment of Boundary Fluidity

7. Projecting Change: The Map and the Territory

8. Charting Change: Practices and Practicalities

9. Conditions over Time: Lessons from the Island of Palmas

Conclusion: The Limits of Geographical Change


About the author: 

Dr Kate Purcell is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales. She completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2013 under the supervision of Professor James Crawford. She holds a Bachelor of Civil Law from the University of Oxford, a Bachelor of Laws (Honours I, University Medal) from the University of New South Wales, and a Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy) from Macquarie University. Her research is in the field of public international law, with a focus on the law of the sea, the law relating to territory and statehood, and the history and theory of international law. She also publishes on international refugee law.

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