ABSTRACT

Laws are the legally enforceable rights and duties that govern how we use the oceans and coasts and as such have a key role to play in the prevention or resolution of conflicts over marine and coastal common resources. But how do laws (or, more correctly, international treaties, domestic law and customary law) address the ‘causes’ of conflict – particularly those factors which may increase the likelihood of conflict? This chapter provides an overview of the different types of law that may influence marine and coastal conflict. Three case examples detail where the rule of law has worked to prevent or resolve disputes. Finally, and most importantly, this chapter describes how law can, or cannot, address the four exacerbating factors: our rights (or lack of) to common resources, our needs for social justice, threats to our wellbeing, and poor governance. Law has a role to play in addressing marine and coastal conflict, however, there are many aspects of the exacerbating factors that are not, or cannot, be addressed by law.