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Posted on on January 14th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Working Paper on “Atoll Island States and Climate Change: Sovereignty Implications.”

Miguel Esteban ,
January 13 , 2012.

Dear Climate Change Readers,

The United Nations Institute of Advanced Studies has just released a new Working Paper titled “Atoll Island States and Climate Change:
Sovereignty Implications”, available for download at:

The paper  examines some of the possible legal effects of the re-location of the

citizens of low-lying Atoll Island States.
It will discuss the issue of sovereignty, which would determine the
ability of the people of the islands to keep long-term control over their current natural
resources. Key to this would be the status of a submerged  Atoll Island State, and if
sovereignty could be preserved through civil engineering defence works.

The possibility of having a government-in-exile is also discussed, which would centre
upon the idea that these islands could re-emerge one day in the distant future, where the
descendants of the current inhabitants could re-claim these lands. The scientific basis for this
will also be discussed, highlighting the complex physical and socio-political problems and
uncertainty associated to the status of these countries.
Miguel Esteban
Assistant Professor
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan
Tel: 00-81-(0)3-5286-2358
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