Small Island States and the LOS Convention 30 Years on: Have the Benefits Been Realised?
Although the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC) is of great importance to a majority of countries, coastal states, naval powers and distant water fishing nations alike, there is a group of countries for whom the sea is such an integral part of their existence that the LOSC, as the “Constitution for the Oceans,” must be regarded as being of fundamental significance. The populations of these countries, comprised of one or more relatively small islands, find their way of life, indeed their very existence, dominated by the sea. The UN Secretary-General noted in 2011 that small islands are, “by their very nature, highly dependent on oceans and seas for the livelihoods of their people, while also remaining extremely vulnerable to sea-level rise and the adverse effects of climate change, pollution and other stresses on oceans and marine resources.” The LOSC provides small island states with a degree of stability and security, allowing them to deal on a more even footing with larger and more prosperous nations and to more easily access the benefits of marine resources.
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