If I construct an island in the middle of the Pacific ocean (not within any country's water territories) could I claim sovereignty?

  • You can claim whatever you like. The real question is what you're going to do when somebody else shows up and wants to claim the same thing. Can you convince the international community you have a legitimate claim? Find allies and sign treaties? Defend your claim with force?
    – Patrick87
    Aug 4, 2019 at 19:04
  • @Patrick87 well it would be hard to defend the island on my own. What if I reported the island to my home country and claimed it to be my country's territory and also my own property? Then I might get protection and reinforcements If another country wanted to take over.
    – user26946
    Aug 5, 2019 at 2:21
  • There are specific UN rules on constructed land which make this a different case from the situation where one discovers a previously uncharted natural island. This should therefore not be closed as a duplicate of that one. Aug 5, 2019 at 15:24
  • Take a look at the difficulties that the occupiers of the Maunsell Fort that makes up Sealand have had doing almost exactly this...
    – user28517
    Jan 5, 2020 at 2:52

1 Answer 1


This is covered by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. You specify that the island is constructed "not within any country's water territories": this is the "high seas", covered by Part VII of the treaty. Specifically relevant to you is Article 89:

No State may validly purport to subject any part of the high seas to its sovereignty.

Yes, you can construct an artificial island (Article 87, part 1d), but you can't claim sovereignty over it.

  • 1
    Yeah, but don't UN regulations only apply to countries that are a part of the UN? The OP isn't a state looking to expand his state, the OP is trying to establish a state Aug 8, 2019 at 3:47
  • 6
    An important part of sovereignty is getting your sovereignty recognized by others. If all but a handful of countries have agreed in advance not to recognize claims of your sort, that's quite a hindrance to your plans.
    – Mark
    Aug 8, 2019 at 20:33
  • Afaik, artificial islands also can't become recognized as countries under the UN convention. You need to have ocean-surface-breaking land.
    – Trish
    Sep 1, 2020 at 15:17

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