Frontiers in Law and Legal Scholarship
AuthorBarnes, Richard Alan
As scholars we are unified by a drive not only to make sense of the world around us, but a desire to push the boundaries of that knowledge. To develop new ways of thinking. To apply existing understanding to novel situations. To advance new possibilities. In our own way, we are pioneers, forging new intellectual pathways into new frontiers. Each article or book published is a claim to new knowledge and understanding, a stake in the future content of our intellectual discipline. Each one marks out the territory of the unknown, it brings light to darkness, and serves to advance the rule of law as a catalyst for environmental, social, economic and in some instances political change. The present collection of essays explicitly situates itself at the frontiers of scholarship on law of the sea and climate change. Some scholarship does this explicitly. Some does this implicitly. However, scholarship infrequently reflects specifically on the idea of a frontier. How does the notion of a frontier define, challenge or influence what we do, and how do we in turn influence the idea of a frontier – or frontiers? This is the task of this collection – to explore the idea of frontiers in the law of the sea and climate change. In doing so, it also seeks to celebrate the specific contributions made by Professor David Freestone to our understanding of these important areas of study.
Research on the law of the sea has always been at the forefront of international law. The oceans have always been frontiers. They are spaces beyond the normal territorial bounds of States. They exist between States and so are fundamentally spaces where transactions and exchanges between States occur and are mediated. Ocean spaces present novel challenges. For example, the oceans are not a stable place in terms of their environmental, economic and social dimensions, and this fluidity challenges our approach to the imposition of fixed notions of space or location.1 The novelty of ocean spaces, the dynamic nature of the marine environment, and the vast unknown, mean that the oceans are a crucible of new ideas and innovations. As one of the most long-established areas of international law, law of the sea has experienced and adapted to many challenges and so can offer insights from experience into how to address challenges of international law-making more generally.