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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Rising Tensions: The impact of Sea Level Rise on Maritime Zones


Sea Level Rise will result in a variety of impacts by 2100. One of these will be changing coastlines around the world as land is inundated by the ocean. Currently, the mean low-water lines around the world are used as baselines for maritime zones under the United Nations Convention on the Law Of the Sea. These physical points will change in the future and UNCLOS does not explicitly state what this means for maritime zones. In some cases the Vienna Convention on the Law of International Treaties can be applied to fix zones defined under bilateral treaties. However, for zones not defined in a bilateral treaty, the future is more uncertain. The future of these zones is likely to be up to the discretion of courts and tribunals with jurisdiction over UNCLOS or rely on updates to the convention.

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