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Many of the elements that have traditionally supported state-level normative self-organization, most notably territory, are being actively undermined today by rising sea levels, flooding, desertification, and other climate change effects. As more and more states are reclassified as ‘disappearing’, that is, states losing their territories to the natural environment through no specific fault of their own, a question arises as to how displaced communities will be assisted in their desire (and right) to continue to practice principles of self-determination and self-government. Because this question is of growing practical significance, the assumption that a unified or largely unchanging model of the liberal democratic state (Österdahl 2003) can continue to be viable into the future has to be reconsidered. Indeed, a more likely scenario is that a series of alternative ontological models of sovereign community will be explored in response to deepening problems of land scarcity, as well as a higher incidence of natural disaster (see Norwegian Refugee Council 2009). But how might collective agreement be reached on the legitimacy of a range of new models of statehood when territory can no longer be assumed to be a fixed component of state identity? This chapter considers how a democratic reform of statehood might proceed in the years ahead under deteriorating climate conditions and resettlement agreements for displaced communities agreed upon. Preserving peaceful sovereign relations as the Anthropocene age progresses, arguably, requires a radical extension of established traditions of democratic compromise, human rights solidarity, and cosmopolitan justice.
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- On the Rights of the Peoples of Disappearing States
- Palgrave Macmillan US
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