The Ongoing Legal Status of Low-Lying States in the Climate-Changed Future
(with Nathan Jon Ross) In Caroline Morris and Petra Butler (eds) Small States in a Legal World (Springer Publishing, Heidelberg, 2017)
Posted: 14 Dec 2017
Date Written: 2017
Low-lying States that may become uninhabitable because of climate change are confronted by many unique challenges, including whether their statehood status should continue if entire populations are forced to relocate to other States' territories. Since the criteria for establishing new States include a defined territory and a permanent population, it is sometimes assumed that these criteria are also essential for the continuity of statehood. This chapter examines the traditional Montevideo statehood criteria with respect to continuity of low-lying States, and highlights cases where States have relied on unorthodox means of meeting those criteria. It surveys alternative types of international legal personality. The analysis finds no authority to support extinguishing the legal personality of these States because of factual changes to the Montevideo criteria. It argues there is potential for either innovative solutions for maintaining statehood, or for converting to an alternative legal personality.
Keywords: Climate change, Statehood, Montevideo criteria
JEL Classification: K00, K10, K32, K33, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation