Arctic Ocean Shipping

Navigation, Security and Sovereignty in the North American Arctic

in Brill Research Perspectives in the Law of the Sea
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Abstract

Arctic Ocean shipping is on the brink of becoming a critical legal, geopolitical and security issue as a result of the impacts of climate change and increased interest in the Arctic Ocean from States that traditionally did not operate within the region. The law of the sea through unclos provides the key legal framework for the regulation of Arctic Ocean shipping, supplemented and extended by related imo conventions and national laws and regulations. This framework has been relied upon by the two major North American Arctic States – Canada and the United States – to develop the legal regime for the Northwest Passage and the Bering Strait. There have been historic disagreements between Canada and the United States with respect to the Northwest Passage, and while not resolved they have to date been managed through legal and political responses. Other straits may become more strategically significant as a result of climate change, including Nares Strait between Canada and Greenland. eez and high seas Arctic Ocean navigation by foreign flagged vessels also needs to be anticipated. Multiple issues are raised with respect to maritime security and the adequacy of the existing legal regime, including how Canada and the United States will respond to interest being expressed in Arctic shipping by Asian States such as China.

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