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How nations are coping with rising seas

By: Laura Moss on July 11, 2011, 10:19 a.m.
Okinotorishima platform

Photo: Okinotoishima (Wikimedia Commons)

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Permanent installations

Legal experts have also suggested that disappearing nations consider establishing permanent installations to stake territorial claims. Such an installation could take the form of an artificial island or a simple platform, such as the one on Okinotoishima, an atoll claimed by Japan. An installation that housed a few “caretakers,” could take the place of an island nation’s land and help it maintain its sovereignty. Maxine Burkett of the University of Hawaii’s Richardson School of Law has proposed a new type of international status for governments who have lost their natural territory to the sea. She says “nation ex situ” is a status that "allows for the continued existence of a sovereign nation afforded all the rights and benefits amongst the family of nations in perpetuity.”