New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Tim Stephens and David L. VanderZwaag
Chapter 13: Canada, the United States and international law of the sea in the Arctic Ocean
Canada and the United States have a complex relationship respecting international law of the sea issues in the Arctic Ocean. One certainty is that the two states agree on the international legal and governance architecture that applies to the Arctic Ocean. This was made clear in the unfairly maligned 2008 Ilulissat Declaration involving Canada and the United States together with Denmark/Greenland, Norway and the Russian Federation. [T]he law of the sea provides for important rights and obligations concerning the delineation of the outer limits of the continental shelf, the protection of the marine environment, including ice-covered areas, freedom of navigation, marine scientific research, and other uses of the sea. We remain committed to this legal framework and to the orderly settlement of any possible overlapping claims. This framework provides a solid foundation for responsible management by the five coastal States and other users of this Ocean through national implementation and application of relevant provisions. We therefore see no need to develop a new comprehensive international legal regime to govern the Arctic Ocean. This endorsement of the prevailing law of the sea, based primarily on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC), applying to the Arctic Ocean, came when there was much public discussion concerning a perceived unrestrained and potentially explosive 'race for resources' in the Arctic Ocean and the mooted possibility of the need or desire for a regime similar to the Antarctic Treatyapplying in the Arctic Ocean.
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