Ocean Floor Grab: International Law and the Making of an Extractive Imaginary
European Journal of International Law
Oxford University Press
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Ranganathan, S. (2019). Ocean Floor Grab: International Law and the Making of an Extractive Imaginary. European Journal of International Law, 30 (2), 573-600. https://doi.org/10.1093/ejil/chz027
In this article, I argue for a critical recognition of the law of the sea, as it developed from the post-War period, as fostering a ‘grab’ of the ocean floor, via national jurisdiction and international administration. I discuss why we should view what might be discussed otherwise as an ‘enclosure’ or ‘incorporation’ of the ocean floor within the state system at its grab. I then trace the grounds on which the ocean was brought within national and international regimes: the ocean floor’s geography and economic value. Both were asserted as givens, that is, as purely factual, but they were, in fact, reified through law. The article thus calls attention to the law’s constitutive effects. I examine the making of this law, showing that law-making by governments was influenced by acts of representation and narrative-creation by many non-state actors. It was informed by both economic and non-economic influences, including political solidarity and suspicion, and parochial as well as cosmopolitan urges. Moreover, the law did not develop gradually or consistently. In exploring its development, I bring into focus the role played by one influential group of actors—international lawyers themselves.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/ejil/chz027
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/289501