Short summary of the dissertation:
All coastal States have an inherent entitlement to the continental shelf. However, the legal definition and limits of this area differ from the scientific understanding of the concept, despite the many references to science in the legal definition. The continental shelf is thus a prime example of the law-science interface, in which the two bodies of knowledge interact. When two different bodies of knowledge come together, with each their different characteristics, assumptions, and working methods, questions arise as to their compatibility, reconcilability and commensurability.
These questions arise in a time in which the world recognizes the importance of science for law and policy. It is thus crucial to understand how and to what extent law and science interact, and whether there may be any structural preconditions preventing meaningful interaction. It is not sufficient to conclude that law and science interact – we also need to understand how and to what extent they do so.
This thesis examines the legal origins and development of the continental shelf, and the interactions between law and science throughout that development. It uses existing scholarship on the relationship between law and science to understand the law-science interface within the development of the definition and limits of the continental shelf, identifying and analyzing both successful interactions and unsuccessful interactions between law and science.