Is An Underwater Nation Still A Nation?

The Marshall Islands - Majuro - Laura Beach #4

As the sea swallows its shores, when does a country cease to be a country? That’s what the New York Times asks this week:

If a country sinks beneath the sea, is it still a country? That is a question about which the Republic of the Marshall Islands — a Micronesian nation of 29 low-lying coral atolls — is now seeking expert legal advice. It is also a question the United States Senate might ask itself the next time it refuses to deal with climate change. […]

Officials in the Marshall Islands — where a 20-inch rise would drown at least one atoll — are not only thinking about the possibility of having to move entire populations but are entertaining even more existential questions: If its people have to abandon the islands, what citizenship can they claim? Will the country still have a seat at the United Nations? Who owns its fishing rights and offshore mineral resources?

Maldives, another nation whose existence is threatened by sea level rise, has already started setting aside money to buy land elsewhere. What would you do if you lived in a place like Marshall Islands & Maldives?

Photo via Flickr’s MrLins

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Published: August 31, 2010