Law Symposium to Consider Rising Sea Level Issues for Islands

Rising sea levels due to climate change may literally wipe some island nations off the map.

There are myriad legal issues surrounding these so-called drowning nations—many of them in the Pacific and Indian oceans—that are slated to be addressed for the first time in a conference at Columbia Law School.

Columbia Law School’s Center for Climate Change Law has put out a call for papers to lawyers and legal scholars for the conference, tentatively scheduled for next May.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words of papers to be presented at the conference should be sent to Michael Gerrard, director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School, at

U.N. Ambassador Phillip Muller of the low-lying Republic of the Marshall Islands – a member of the Alliance of Small Island States ─ contacted Gerrard. The Marshall Islands’ government is concerned about how the many novel legal questions could be answered. An international conference appeared to be the best way to go about generating a serious discussion and academic analysis.

Some of the issues for the conference could be related to relocation, continued sovereignty, legal protections, and limiting the damage.

The Earth Institute of Columbia University has provided $25,000 in initial funding. Gerrard said additional money is being sought to offset travel expenses so participants from as many of the island nations as possible can attend.

comments powered by Disqus