What's the legal status of a country that gets swallowed by the ocean?
By the end of this century, it's likely that at least a handful of island nations will find out what it means to become a "deterritorialized" state, writes Rosemary Rayfuse in the Times.
When the last bit of Nauru, or Tuvalu, or Kiribati disappear under the waves, it will be a double whammy for their displaced citizens, who could lose control of the vast maritime zones extending from their shores. By law these zones, rich in fish and other natural resources, can extend for hundreds of miles from the shores of a sovereign nation.
In addition to losing their homes, it is possible these citizens could lose a great deal else — their sovereignty, for example, if they're forced to merge with another country.
History has a few examples of other deterritorialized states — Vatican City, the Knights of Malta — so it's possible international law will be modified to accommodate these climate refugees. Unless we're heartless enough to take their nationality from them, too.
h/t to Clive Thompson for the title
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