2 April 2019 from 13:00 to 14:00

PIL luncheon: Legal framework surrounding artificial islands in Dutch EEZ

Dutch coast

On April 2 Otto Spijkers will be the speaker at a Public International Law luncheon. He will talk about his research on the international legal framework relating to the construction of artificial islands in the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). The lecture will be held at Newtonlaan 201, in room 5A.16. And it will take place from 13.00 to 14.00.

The speaker

The presentation will be given by Otto Spijkers, lecturer of Public International Law at Utrecht University, Senior Research Associate with the Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea (NILOS), and researcher with the Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law (UCWOSL). The presentation is titled “Analysis of the international legal framework relating to the construction of artificial islands in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Netherlands”.

Artificial Islands

The Netherlands is actively pursuing a policy of sustainably developing its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), while developing long-term policy perspectives. The option of constructing artificial islands is part of this endeavour. Artificial islands can be used for practically anything. To fulfil its obligations under the Paris Agreement (concluded on 12 December 2015, entry into force on 4 November 2016, with 184 States parties), the Netherlands is planning the construction of large wind farms that can be serviced from an artificial island. One can also think of cities at sea, or islands for tourism. Other options that have been seriously explored at some point in time – albeit not all by the Netherlands – include nuclear power stations, factories for desalination of seawater, for aquaculture - breeding of salmon, oysters or mussels - and islands filled with enormous frozen containers for the temporal storage of fish caught at sea. An artificial island for the storage of (hazardous) substances or waste processing is also an option; after all, people prefer to have such smelly stuff as far away from their homes as possible. And what about an airport at sea, or a rocket launch platform, or floating data centres (with thousands of servers running on electricity generated from wind or sun, and cooled by seawater)? One can also think of an asylum request processing centre, like the one on Manus Island.


In his presentation, Otto Spijkers will look at the international legal framework relating to the construction of artificial islands in the EEZ. The Netherlands, like any coastal State, has an exclusive right to construct artificial islands in its EEZ. No (transnational) corporation or foreign State can do so without permission from the Netherlands. The Netherlands also has exclusive jurisdiction over all artificial islands in its EEZ. No foreign State can legislate, give judgment, or enforce the law on such island, unless the Netherlands has explicitly transferred jurisdiction to the foreign State. With such rights come responsibilities: the Netherlands is responsible for the safety of and around artificial islands, for human rights protection, and it has an obligation to prevent such islands from causing harm to the marine environment or to other States.

We’re looking forward to seeing you there, as well as the ensuing discussions. The event is open to both students and staff without RSVP.

Start date and time
2 April 2019 13:00
End date and time
2 April 2019 14:00