Breakfast Briefing with Ríán Derrig

Was Rockall Conquered? A territorial and maritime dispute between Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, and the United Kingdom


Drawing on an article published in the current volume of the Irish Yearbook of International Law, ‘Was Rockall Conquered? An Application of the Law of Territory to a Rock in the North Atlantic Ocean’, and an accompanying EJIL: Talk! Blog post, this presentation addresses an ongoing territorial and maritime dispute between Denmark (on behalf of the Faroe Islands), Iceland, Ireland, and the UK.

This longstanding dispute comprises the UK’s claim to territorial sovereignty over Rockall, a small rock in the North Atlantic Ocean, and to surrounding areas of marine jurisdiction; rejection of this territorial claim on the part of Ireland and claims on the part of Irish fishers to access to seas around Rockall; and claims on the part of Denmark (on behalf of the Faroe Islands) and Iceland to overlapping areas of continental shelf in the same region. Recently exacerbated by Brexit, this dispute has risen to political prominence in Ireland and the UK. The presentation examines the dispute from the perspective of the law territory with the aim of using this case study to highlight the role of the EU legal order in mediating disputes between member states less soluble when forced to contestation in other legal regimes, and to examine ideas about how relations between human communities, land and water are conceptualised in the law of territory and of the sea.

About the speaker

Ríán Derrig is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Global Ocean Institute of the United Nations World Maritime University, Malmö. His current research focuses on the legal regulation of artificial intelligence in shipping, law’s role in the global redistribution of ocean resources, and topics at the intersection of the law of territory and the law of the sea. He was previously a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Center for Global Constitutionalism of the WZB Berlin Social Science Center where he undertook a project focused on the influence of changing paradigms of psychological theory on twentieth century international law. Ríán defended his doctoral thesis, ‘Educating American Modernists: The Origins of the New Haven School’, at the European University Institute in September 2019. He was awarded the 2018 Young Scholar Prize of the European Society of International Law and the 2020 Antonio Cassese Prize for his work on the New Haven School. Ríán’s recent publications include: ‘Educating American Lawyers: The New Haven School’s Jurisprudence of Personal Character’, 31(3) European Journal of International Law (2020).

For participation in this event, please use this registration form no later than 13 October 2021. (You will receive the Zoom link right after you register)

See a list of all the Breakfast Briefings for fall 2021.