Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic
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Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic

Edited by Leif Christian Jensen and Geir Hønneland

The Arctic has again become one of the leading issues on the international foreign policy agenda, in a manner unseen since the Cold War. Drawing on the perspectives of geo-politics and international law, this Handbook offers fresh insights and perspectives on the most pressing issues, grouped under the headings of political ascendancy, climate and environmental issues, resources and energy, and the response and policies of affected countries.
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Chapter 10: Maritime limits and boundaries in the Arctic Ocean: agreements and disputes

Ted L. McDorman and Clive Schofield


The Arctic Ocean, understood here as the body of water north of the Arctic Circle, has been the focus of significant political and media attention over most of the last decade. The six coastal states in the region – Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States – have long been asserting and exercising their jurisdictional rights in the Arctic Ocean pursuant to the international law of the sea and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOS Convention), to which all these states, except the United States, are parties. This is the case notwithstanding perceptions that the Arctic is a case apart. There is no doubt that the Arctic Ocean, especially the central Arctic Ocean (the area north of Alaska, the Canadian Arctic islands, Greenland, Svalbard and the Russian Federation), is a unique, sensitive and relatively pristine marine environment. The Arctic region also has special characteristics – for example, in relation to the nature of some of its coastal populations and the impact of developments in the environment (global climate change) on global weather, sea-levels, ocean currents, ice-cover, and so forth. Nevertheless, all the Arctic littoral states have advanced maritime jurisdictional claims off their Arctic coasts and into the Arctic Ocean that are consistent with the LOS Convention and in keeping with maritime claims made elsewhere in the world ocean.

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