New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Tim Stephens and David L. VanderZwaag
Chapter 12: Coastal state jurisdiction and the Polar Code: a test case for Arctic Oceans governance?
These are interesting times for the Arctic. It is widely recognized that the region is experiencing rapid (and somewhat unpredictable) transformation arising from the interactive forces of climate change and globalization; changes that are predicted to stress existing Arctic governance systems. Thus, a premium is now being put on efforts to devise new practices and governance regimes more appropriate to the 'new' Arctic. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the realm of Arctic Oceans governance, where the reality of receding ice cover has raised the spectre of rapidly increasing access by shipping to, and through, Arctic waters and concomitant concerns as to the adequacy of the international legal framework for the regulation of Arctic shipping. To address this new reality commentators have called for a number of approaches, ranging from a comprehensive Arctic treaty, to a framework agreement with protocols addressing specific sectoral issues, or a more limited treaty regime dealing only with the protection of the marine environment in that part of the central Arctic Ocean that lies beyond national jurisdiction. Others have argued, however, that pan-Arctic regimes are doomed to the scrap heap of intellectual fancy. Instead, they argue that what is needed - and indeed the best that can be expected - is a 'regime complex' consisting of 'an array of partially overlapping and non-hierarchical institutions governing a particular issue area', or 'a network of distinct elements dealing with relatively specific issues operating under different auspices and encompassing overlapping but not identical sets of members'.
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