Re: Creating new states

Date: Sun Jan 16 2000 - 21:50:17 MST

This thread raised some questions about the sovereignity of artificial
islands and the like. Allow me to quote at length from some relevant bits
of, "The Last Free Place on Earth," 12 EXTROPY 14 (Winter-Spring 1994)
(footnotes excised):

"The [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of December 10, 1982]
grants every coastal State an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) reaching up to
200 nautical miles (nmi)--or about 370.4 km--offshore. A State has an
exclusive right to construct artificial islands and other installations
within its EEZ.[n.7] This alone rules out many of the best sites for a new
sovereign territory. But the '82 Convention also grants coastal States rights
over their continental shelves for at least 200 nmi offshore, and sometimes
up to 350 nmi (648.2 km).[n.8] Essentially, then, the '82 Convention puts
every shallow coastal area out-of-bounds.[n.9]

"Fortunately, seamounts offer many relatively shallow building sites on the
high seas. Some 10,000 seamounts appear in the Pacific alone; others appear
in the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean, the South China Sea, and the Gulf of
Alaska.[n.10] Of course, many of these sit too deep for present technology to
put to good use. But estimates put over 70 seamounts within 185 m of the
ocean's surface--and well outside of any statist's territorial claims.[n.11]
An appreciable number of these come within 60 m of surface, and several come
within 9 m [n.12] Consider, for example, Vema seamount (63 m
deep, at 3138'S, 0820'E) and Walters Shoal (42 m deep, at 3313'S,

. . .

". . . The international law of the sea denies artificial islands all
maritime territorial claims except for narrow safety zones (usually of 500
m). This would put a sovereign artificial island at a distinct disadvantage
relative to land-based statists. But there may be a loophole in this
territorial restriction whereby alluvions, such as those deposited in the lee
of an ocean current, can form natural islands even if provoked or guided by
human works.[n.14] This suggests that you might grow a natural island next to
your artificial one, and thus claim rights to a territorial sea, an EEZ, and
a continental shelf.[n.15]"

The full article, available at
<>, has some interesting
details--including the one continental shelf I've found that lies outside of
any EEZ.

T.0. Morrow

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