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France : the World’s Second Largest Exclusive Economic Zone.

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Established in 1952, CERI is the most preeminent research center in France that concentrates on both international/transnational relations and regional studies. It is also the largest of Sciences Po’s research units, with a faculty of 53 permanent, 7 emeritus and 26 associated scholars.

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Denise Fisher

One Among Many: Changing Geostrategic Interests anf Challenges for France in the South Pacific. 12/2015






By virtue of its global sovereign presence, and specifically its Pacific islands presence, France is the world’s second largest maritime nation.

It lays claim to sovereignty over the second largest Exclusive Economic Zone as defined under 1982 Law of the Sea principles, second only to that of the United States, and before that of Australia; and claims its existing and potential resources.

Its EEZ is three times larger than that of China, and twenty times the size of France itself. As Jacques Chirac said, “Without the departments and territories overseas, France would be only a little country.”

With all of its overseas possessions, France’s total EEZ is 12 million square kilometers, of which 7 m. sq. km. derive from its pacific possessions and 5 m. sq. km. of that, from French Polynesia alone.

Thus 97 percent of French maritime territory is composed of the maritime territory of the Outre-mer and two thirds by the Pacific collectivities alone.

Even the remote uninhabited atoll of Clipperton represents an EEZ of 400 000 sq km, about 1/3 bigger than the hexagon’s.

French Polynesia’s EEZ is equal to the size of the whole Europe.

France has lodged a claim to extend its global rights even further, from the existing 200 miles to 350 miles off the continental shelf, under provision of the Law of the Sea pertaining to the continental shelf, which would add over 500,000 sq km to France’s zone.

France’s most significant South Pacific research and investment is focused on New Caledonia’s nickel assets, representing at least 10 percent, possibly 25 percent, of the world’s reserves.