The sea level rise and its challenges

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Aris-Georges Marghélis, CDMO, University of Nantes, France

Thirty-three years after its conclusion, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) remains the reference text governing States’ relations at sea and to the sea. Inevitably, time raises questions as to UNCLOS’ coherence, consistency with new challenges – often unconceivable or unconsidered in 1982 – and infallibility of some of its principles.

Among those new challenges are global warming and subsequent sea level rise, likely to eventually raise maritime border issues of new nature. It shall be reminded that one of the major and genius innovations of UNCLOS has been the functional division of ocean space in zones, designed to contain and regulate the expansionist tendencies of States at sea, contrarily to previous conventions that, apart territorial waters, provided only one zone for all ocean pools. Consequently, it is possible to imagine the consequences that may have a deregulation of the mode on which this division is based. Sea level rise affects indeed the basis of this division: the baselines from which are measured and established all maritime zones.

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