Since the advent of fire, Man has been advancing unprecedently.
Industrialization was one such huge reform that transformed the lives of people.
The creation of big Industries gave birth to job opportunities for many. In
result, it transformed the society from agricultural to industrialised one,
which led to urbanization. But all this progress came at a price - Global
Warming. Climate Change is perceived as one of the greatest challenges for
Humanity to overcome. Climate Change has varied observable results like an
increase in temp, minimum temperatures, higher ocean temperatures, an increase
in heavy precipitation and storm, shrinking glaciers, melting permafrost & many
Sea Level Rise (SLR) is one such effect of Climate Change. It is a disastrous
problem that needs to be addressed. Sea level proceeding to arise would result
in flooding, and draining saltwater into tidal areas. It raises migration,
reduces military preparedness, and endangers historical sites located near
coasts. This will commence to the infringement of certain basic Human Rights.
At its seventieth session (2018), the International Law Commission elected to
recommend the summation of the topic “Sea-level rise in relation to
International law” in its long-term memoranda of work.
Consequences of Sea Level Rise
For eras, the coastline has remained a market for a diversity of ventures
including industry, resorts, cultivation, fun and fisheries. SLR is
an underestimated effect of Climate Change. A 2017 report from the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), revealed low-level rise
conditions are estimated at least six inches of SLR by 2050, whereas ultimate
scenarios imply that SLR could be up to two feet by 2050. Currently, the rise
has doubled over the years & is continuing to grow at a concerning average
of 3.3 millimetres per year.
The outcomes of this are very severe, some of which are noted below:
- Economic Impact:
Global SLR changes have undeniably grown to deliver a hit on highly weak
economies. These consequences of SLR are an essential ingredient of the
predicted economic destruction of climate change. Some of the diverse damages
are enlisted below.
- The loss of land.
- The loss of infrastructure and material capital.
- The end of social capital including the added cost of extreme cases and coastal
- A rise in expenditure for coastal safeguard.
- Homes built near the coast will face the threat such as like in the US.
- Environmental Impact:
Coastlines remain sensitive to SLR which result in variations of the frequency
and strength of storms, increments in precipitation, and warmer sea
Ecological impacts could be severe as stated below:
- Breeding territory in dunes, tidal swamps, and tidal wetlands, used by numbers
of species, could be damaged.
- Results would be especially high for any of marine’s most threatened birds.
- Fisheries could be massively affected.
- Land near the coast will drop its fertility by which farmers would be affected.
- Forced Migration:
SLR would double flood regularity, erosion, inundation, and rising water tables
to weak communities, formulating danger to food preservation and maintenance of
the community. The number of people who would be harmed by SLR is only going to
Presently around 40% of the world's communities reside within 100 kilometres of
the shoreline so relocating such a vast number of people will be remarkably
Based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2014, coastal
tourism has been the greatest segment of the global tourism industry. The
tourism industry is alone of the world’s most booming industries, accounting for
about 10.3% of global GDP and provides jobs to people worldwide & it will be
Sea-level rise will hit coastal tourism as a consequence of coastal flooding,
erosion and changes to the frequency and rise of extreme sea levels. Drastic
situations can be highly disruptive to tourism infrastructure besides the
coasts. Developing countries and small islands encircled by the coast are
reliant on coastal tourism and will be affected directly by SLR.
Law & Sea Level Rise
International Law Association established one Committee on International Law and
Sea Level Rise in 2012. The committee was appointed to focus its work on three
foremost issues cause by SLR:
- The law of the sea.'
- Forced migration and human rights
- Problems of worldwide security.
At its 3467th meeting, on 21 May 2019, the committee decided to cover the topic
in its contemporary programme of work. International Law & Sea Level Rise was
established by ILA Executive Council in November 2012. The Committee was
Which Human Rights would be violated?
- To investigate the possible consequences of SLR & suggestions under
- To produce proposals for the continuous advancement of International Law
about the potential loss to statehood, maritime zones, human rights.
Right to LifeClimate change has a direct & indirect loss to human life. Mortality is one
consequence of climate-related limits, such as heatwaves, droughts, floods,
hurricanes and wildfires. There is a high assurance of the death in low-lying
waterfront zones and small island developing nations and other small areas due
to hurricane waves, seaside flooding and sea-level.
The right to life is explicitly protected in various human rights treaties, in
precise, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
which is stated in Article 6 (1) as ;
Every human being owns the basic right to life. This right shall be
protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.
It is defined as the “supreme right”, “necessary to all human rights”, which
cannot be discredited from people even in periods of public emergency.
Right to Adequate FoodWarming, drought, flooding and precipitation variability are associated hazards
of food insecurity and the breakdown of food systems, especially for the poor.
World's food stocks could be heavily distorted.
The right to adequate food is described in the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which additionally harbours the
right of everyone to be free from hunger.
Article 11 of ICESCR elaborates this right as:
Everyone holds a right to have a certain adequate standard of living for
them & their family. This right further expands to right of housing,
clothing and advises states to the instantaneous improvement of living
This right further affirms that it is the fundamental right of every
individual to survive huger free. To make no individual deprive of their
fundamental rights it advises the states to:
- To develop the method of production, cultivation, accommodation and
developing or reforming agrarian systems to make optimum use of natural
- To assure the free flow of food-importing and food-exporting from other
Right to WaterRising sea levels are a well-known warning to contamination of freshwater
reserves in coastal systems and low-lying areas. Renewable surface water and
groundwater reserves are also foretold to shrink significantly in most dry
subtropical areas due to climate change. Because of rising sea levels, there is
estimated to be a risk of supply of drinking water.
Water is an inadequate natural reserve and a good fundamental for life and
health. The human right to water is needed for leading a life in human dignity.
It is a basis for the accomplishment of other human rights.
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment in
its General Comment 15 guarantees
The right to water permits, everyone, without discrimination, to have access to
sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and, affordable water for
personal and domestic use.
Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health
Storm surges, coastal flooding and sea-level rise are assumed to lead to injury
and ill-health in low-lying coastal zones and small island emerging countries
and other small islands. Mental Health is also at a risk because of climate
The most familiar combination of the right to the highest available measure of
physical and mental health is in article 12 of the ICESCR.
The article states that to the full realization of this the right shall comprise
those necessary for:
- Reduction in infant mortality.
- Improvement of all phases of environmental and industrial cleanliness.
- Creation of conditions which would ensure to all medical service and
medical attention in the event of sickness.
- Prevention and control of the epidemic.
Right to self-determinationThe IPCC notes that land flood originating from SLR is expected to pose risks to
the territorial integrity of States with extensive coastlines. In such cases,
the right to self-determination is critical since it is questionable that the
whole community will be able to be relocated and be together elsewhere.
This particular right is most prime in the context of International Law.
The right to self-determination is the right of a people to determine its
destiny. Generally, the principle provides people to determine its political
status and to decide its form of economic, cultural and social advancement.
The principle of self-determination is embodied in Article I of the Charter of
the United Nations. The article also specifies to respect this particular right
that everyone has the right to self-determination. Because of the right people
can unobstructedly decide their political status and freely endure their
economic, social and cultural development.
Right to Cultural IdentityClimate change has significant assistance for the benefit of the right to
cultural identity. It indicates vital challenges for diverse indigenous peoples,
including toward their cultural practices, information systems, traditional food
systems and livelihoods and adaptive approaches. Many people would be deprived
of traditional territories and roots of livelihoods.
Furthermore, in the interest of indigenous populations, climate change impacts
are anticipated to severely and disproportionately harm other vulnerable groups,
including women, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities and the poor.
Culture is vital to human pride and integrity. Recognizing the link between
cultural rights and human rights is essential to the safeguarding and betterment
of culture, as well as the rights of people. The notion of culture is extensive.
As stated in Articles 4 and 5 of the 2001 UNESCO Universal Declaration on
Cultural Diversity, the protection of cultural rights is connected from the
achievement of human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular, the rights
of women, minorities and indigenous peoples.
Article 27 of UNHR also states that everyone has a right to protect their
While there prevail enormous rights which ensures minimum suffrage of people
likes to be affected by SLR. There still exist some flaws in agreements &
treaties which could affect millions. Below are some enlisted views which could
help overcome current loopholes.
Structure a new legal obligationFirstly the main purpose of this section would be to help people who
are displaced by sea-level rise. This obligation would constitute to create
whole new laws & confer basic rights to climate refugees who are at risk because
of forced migration.
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) does not have
particular provisions on adaptation to SLR for islands. United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) administration provides a complete
structure for accommodation but does not approach exactly the legal perspectives
of these measures. This leads the way for the creation of a new legal
Combat Sea Level RiseMaximum efforts should be accomplished to slow down or nullify SLR. The Paris
Agreements Article 7 interprets into - Governments accepting to establish the
the global goal on adaptation of improving adaptive ability, encouraging
resilience and decreasing vulnerability to climate change, to commit to
sustainable development and guarantee an adequate adaptation acknowledgement in
the meaning of the temperature goal.
The developed states, developing countries & least developed countries all
should align commonly and make optimum efforts to fight climate change plus act
aggressively to meet Paris agreement.
Adaptation as a remedyAll Parties shall assist in planning for adoption to the impacts of climate
change like promote and cooperate in scientific, technological, technical,
socio-economic research. They should also encourage education of this certain
topic & particularly enhance public awareness.
Expanding support for flexibility and adjustment exercises especially in the
advancement of beachfront foundations like seawalls like in the Netherlands and
the improvement of recently wrecked wetlands.
The Paris Climate Agreement offers a method to build funding for these kinds of
projects and the cost for them may immediately get big.
Restricting Emission ControlsA strict regulation should be passed to stop the acceleration of climate change.
Nonetheless, The Paris Agreement sets the limit for emitting emission & keeping
global temperature below 2 degrees but without punishments. Lack of punishments
hurts the effectiveness of the agreement.
Reforming Humanitarian LawPreferably than converging specifically on changing law and describing the Law
of the Sea or SLR, the focus should be upon humanitarian law, such as the Geneva
Conventions or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDoHR).
Transforming international legal codes to offer for the relief of those fleeing
sea-level rise would advance the aptitudes of the international community to
cater for climate migrants and those left backwards.
Refugee Law also needs to be inspected and be reconstructed.
Climate change is one of the greatest hurdles humanity has ever faced.SLR is a
major indicator of ongoing global change. As a global problem with local and
diffused causes, it may only be met through international collaboration. New
legal obligation needs to be restructured to obstruct people getting deprived of
their basic rights. Special care needs to be taken care of the weaker section of
society residing near vulnerable coasts.
Though SLR cannot be halted for at least the next some hundred years, with
proactive moderation it can be stalled down, and this would buy time for
adaptation models to be adopted. If we aspire to protect our coastal communities
and marine ecosystems, curb food insecurity, maintain tourism, recreation and
trade, we need to act now and rapidly restrict our emissions.
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