Samoa's plans to shift the Inetrnational Dateline

Gwillim Law RLAW at
Tue Apr 19 01:28:05 UTC 2011

The International Date Line is not defined by any international law or treaty. It is an arbitrary line drawn by cartographers, separating lands in the Pacific Ocean whose standard time is later than UTC from those whose standard time is earlier than UTC. Therefore, if Samoa decides to shift its standard time from UTC-11 to UTC+13, the cartographers will simply redraw the line to the east of Samoa. The same thing happened in 1995, when Kiribati changed the date for its eastern island groups. The Line Islands and the Phoenix Islands had been observing a different date, one day earlier than the Gilbert Islands where most of the people of Kiribati lived. In 1995, the Line and Phoenix groups were shifted forward by one day. They didn't need the approval of any international agency. In response, new maps began appearing with a large displacement in the International Date Line, skirting all of Kiribati along the country's eastern limit.

"... the term 'International Date Line' is thus in fact a misnomer. Its exact course was never defined by any international treaty, law or agreement." (

"The IDL drawn on the map on this page and all other maps is now and always has been an artificial construct of cartographers-the precise course of the line in international waters is arbitrary. No international organization nor any treaty between nations has fixed the "straight line" segments and their junctions. All nations unilaterally determine their standard time zones..." (

I hope that addresses your question adequately.

Yours,      Gwillim Law

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Leilani Tuala Warren 

  The Samoa law Reform Commission has been tasked with looking into how Samoa can shift the international dateline so that it is in the same time zone as NZ, Fiji and Tonga rather than USA. Can we please enter into some dialogue as to how this can be done on a global scale?

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