Law of the Sea in the ‘Plasticene’

Event date
28 April 2022
Event time
09:00 - 10:15
Oxford week
TT 1
Online via Zoom
Professor Karen Scott

* Please note this event takes place at 9am UK time, rather than the usual start time for Discussion Group seminars, to accommodate time zone differences. *

If you wish to participate in this (remote) seminar, RSVP is necessary. Please complete the Registration Form before 5:30pm on Wednesday 27 April (please note that if you register after 5:30pm, a link may not be sent to you).  Prior to the Thursday seminar, you will be sent a Zoom link to join. 

Abstract: The current mass of plastics is the oceans is believed to be over 250,000 metric tonnes and plastic has been found in the deepest part of the oceans (the Mariana Trench, 11,000 metres below sea level) and in some of the most remotest areas: Henderson Island in the Pitcarin Group has the world’s greatest density of marine plastic litter of any island.  The ubiquity and persistence of plastics in the natural environment means that it is considered a geological marker of the Anthropocene and has even given rise to its own descriptor of our Epoch: the Plasticene. In March 2022, the UN Environment Assembly adopted Resolution 5/14 initiating intergovernmental negotiations to develop ‘an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment.’  The focus of this seminar will be on the law of the sea in the ‘Plasticene’.  It will explore the current regime complex for ocean plastics, focusing on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as well as key binding instruments (such as the London Convention on dumping and MARPOL) and important normative but non-binding instruments (such as the 1995 GPA and associated initiatives).  It will consider how the law of the sea is likely to interact with the newly proposed plastics treaty, drawing on some experiences of the BBNJ Agreement (currently under negotiation) with respect to the management of competing and complementary regimes.

Speaker: Karen N Scott is a Professor of Law at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law (ANZSIL) and Editor-in-Chief of Ocean Development and International Law (ODIL).  Karen is on the board of seven journals including the Brill Research Perspectives on the Law of the Sea and the Australian Yearbook of International Law.  She researches and teaches in the areas of public international law, law of the sea and international environmental law.  Karen has published over 100 edited books, journal articles and book chapters in these areas.  Karen is a University Proctor and she was Head of the School of Law at the University of Canterbury between 2015 and 2018.  She previously taught at the University of Nottingham in the UK. 


In Trinity Term 2022, the PIL Discussion Group series continues to be held online. RSVP is necessary for each event. A link to the Registration Form will be available on the relevant event page prior to each event. Please complete this form to register your attendance and, prior to the event, you will be sent a Zoom link to join the discussion. Please note that if you complete the form after the deadline of noon on the preceding Wednesday, you may not receive the link to join.

The Public International Law Discussion Group at the University of Oxford is a key focal point for PIL@Oxford and hosts regular speaker events. Topics involve contemporary and challenging issues in international law. Speakers include distinguished international law practitioners, academics, and legal advisers from around the world.

PIL Discussion Group Convenor: Natasha Holcroft-Emmess

The Discussion Group's meetings are part of the programme of the British Branch of the International Law Association and are supported by the Law Faculty and Oxford University Press.

For this seminar, the speaker will commence at 9am UK Time and speak for around forty minutes, allowing about twenty-five minutes for questions and discussion. The meeting should conclude by 10:15am UK Time.

Practitioners, academics and students from within and outside the University of Oxford are all welcome.

Found within

Public International Law