Paper

Sea Level Refugees: Suitable Recognition and UNCLOS

GMA 400 - Senior Seminar Research

A thesis that analyzes United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in the contemporary world. Furthermore, this work seeks to expand multiple definitions, such as statelessness and the term refugee, delineated explicitly by the United Nations. This thesis argues that the United Nations needs to acknowledge and recognize those at risk of disappearing caused by sea level rise, known in this work as “sea level refugees,” in their definitions. Sea level rise sets itself apart from other environmental consequences of climate change as it presents a significant number of unique issues in the maritime world. Multiple case studies of coastal nations like Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Kivalina (an Alaskan village) are used in this work as examples of countries at risk of disappearing. It is vital that the international community create the appropriate policies regarding stateless nations in UNCLOS to recognize and provide those affected by the sea with proper asylum.

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