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Outer space, high seas, the deep seabed and Antarctica are areas governed by international law using the same set of legal principles centred around international management, non-appropriation, equitable use and peaceful purposes. The importance of these international areas and their resources has increased exponentially over the past 30 years due to globalisation and the need for these resources. New technologies, increasing demands for new resources, climate change and exotic tourism, driven by a tripling of the global economy over the next 30 years, mean that their importance will again increase dramatically. Management of these areas and their valuable resources is a rapidly developing area of international law that will affect many different areas of commerce and the law. This subject provides a unique opportunity to learn from two international lawyers with practical experience in the field.
Principal topics include:
- What are international areas, what is their importance and what are future trends in their use?
- The historical development of regulations governing the use of international areas and their resources, such as fishing, oil and gas extraction, pollution and access to orbits
- Law governing major international areas and their natural resources, including:
- Outer space
- High seas
- Deep seabed
- Current issues and developments, in particular:
- Management of resources in the deep seabed, continental shelves, polar regions and celestial bodies
- Equitable access to outer space orbits, especially geostationary orbits
- Challenges of tourism in the deep sea, outer space and Antarctica
- Environmental impacts of human activities (polar melting; space debris; ocean fertilisation; marine pollution and dumping)
- The right to protest at sea in connection with the use of natural resources
- New and emerging uses of these areas (e.g. geo-engineering and the use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture).
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the importance of international areas and the types of human activities, including commercial activities, that are undertaken in these places
- Understand the concepts and principles of the international law and policy that govern human activities in these areas
- Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the international case law and policy arising from the use of these areas and their natural resources
- Understand the limitations of international law in regulating human activities in these areas
- Be an engaged participant in debate regarding emerging and contemporary issues in the field, such equity, sustainable development, common concern of human kind, common heritage of humankind, environmental impact assessment and benefit sharing
- Have a sophisticated appreciation of the factors and processes driving the evolution of the international law and policy governing the use of international resources
- Have an advanced understanding of situations in which issues of equality and sustainable management of international resources may arise
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas relating the use and management of international resources, and to critically evaluate existing legal theories, principles and concepts with creativity and autonomy
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse existing and emerging legal issues relating to the use and management of international resources
- Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding the use and management of international resources to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
- Be able demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in this field of the law.
Last updated: 2 December 2019