No Port, No Passport: Why Submerged States Can Have No Nationals

Wash. Int'l L.J. 26.2, 2017

12 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2016 Last revised: 6 Apr 2017

See all articles by Heather Alexander

Heather Alexander

Tilburg University

Jonathan Simon

New York University (NYU) - Department of Philosophy

Date Written: October 18, 2016

Abstract

Territorial loss owing to sea level rise presents novel challenges to the international legal order. Nowhere is this clearer than in the case of small island states like the Maldives, Tuvalu and Kiribati, whose very existence is in jeopardy. In our recent article, Sinking Into Statelessness, we argue that the principle of presumption of continuity of state existence does not ensure that sinking states shall or may retain their legal statehood, because that principle cannot overrule the fact that territoriality is a constitutive feature of legal statehood. Here, we argue that even if, contra our previous conclusion, submerged states retain their legal statehood, territory is nevertheless necessary in order for a state to confer nationality in the sense of the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons: that is, for a state to consider someone a national under the operation of its law. In consequence, even granting that such a state could exist and have members, its members would need nationality in another state in order to avoid de jure statelessness. To establish this claim, we will argue that for a state to consider someone a national under the operation of its law, that state must be capable of complying with the duty to readmit nationals when requested to do so by another state.

Keywords: statelessness, climate change, nationality, international law, environmental, environment, sinking states, small island

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Heather and Simon, Jonathan, No Port, No Passport: Why Submerged States Can Have No Nationals (October 18, 2016). Wash. Int'l L.J. 26.2, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2854444

Heather Alexander (Contact Author)

Tilburg University ( email )

Tilburg
Netherlands

Jonathan Simon

New York University (NYU) - Department of Philosophy ( email )

New York, NY
United States

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