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Sinking into Statelessness

Authors:

Heather Alexander ,

Refugee lawyer; former Associate Protection Officer, UNHCR
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Jonathan Simon

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, philosophy; Tulane University New Orleans, LA
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Abstract

If rising seas render small islands uninhabitable, will displaced islanders become stateless? The modern intellectual and legal tradition tells us that states must have defined, habitable territory. If so, small islands will cease to be states, and their inhabitants will accordingly become stateless. Against this, leading scholars have recently argued that the principle of presumption of continuity of state existence implies that island states continue to be states even after becoming uninhabitable. We argue to the contrary: the principle of presumption of continuity of state existence implies no such thing. If nothing is done to prevent the loss of their territory, small islands will lose their statehood, making displaced islanders stateless.
How to Cite: Alexander H and Simon J, ‘Sinking into Statelessness’ (2014) 19 Tilburg Law Review 20 DOI: http://doi.org/10.1163/22112596-01902003
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Published on 01 Jan 2014.
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