Richard North of the EU Referendum sends word of this new paper. I’m sure Greenpeace won’t be amused as more polar bears turn into dumpster divers with this new influx of miners and drillers in the new ice free future.
After the Ice Melts: Conflict Resolution and the International Scramble for Natural Resources in the Arctic Circle
Wei-en Tan, Department of Diplomacy, National Chengchi University, Yu-tai Tsai Institute of Strategic and International Affairs Studies, National Chung Cheng University No. 64, Sec. 2, Chinan Rd., Taipei 11605, Taiwan (PDF available here )
It is a well-known fact that global warming is melting the Arctic ice cap.
As this happens, the natural resources in the Arctic will become available for exploitation. As such, the five countries with major claims to the region—the United States, Canada, Russia, Denmark, and Norway—are looking to extend their claims to the natural resources beneath the ice-covered ocean. The size of the Arctic Shelf is about 4.5 million square kilometers, and the U.S. Geological Survey posits that 25 percent of the world’s undiscovered gas and oil reserves may be there. Clearly, there are large amounts of untapped resources that these five countries could use to satisfy their increasing demand for development and economy.
This paper will try to explore the current disputes over Arctic seabed resources surrounding the five states in North Pole, evaluate the regimes for resolving the conflict in UNCLOS. Furthermore, the paper will introduce the appropriate points
of view and discuss the alternative dispute settlement mechanism (DSM) for this significant problem caused by global warming in the coming future.
It is very clear that the Arctic region stands at the threshold of significant changes. The increasing rate at which the Arctic ice is melting will surely have a major impact on local ecosystems and the potential exploitation of natural resources. By virtue of their sovereign rights and jurisdiction, the five countries with claims to the Arctic region are presently at a critical juncture for addressing their current and future conflicts of interest. This paper explores the current disputes over Arctic Ocean resources and evaluates the mechanisms in UNCLOS for resolving these kinds of disputes. Furthermore, this paper introduces the viewpoints and discusses the alternative dispute settlement mechanisms (DSM) which can be employed to solve this kind of significant problem.
Global warming has not only challenged the authority of UNCLOS and its legal regime for resolving disputes relating to the continental shelf under the Arctic Ocean, but has also marked the beginning of the end for freedom of the high seas in the Arctic region. In addition to its environmental implications, global warming has caused a shift in the way the international community regards the Arctic, shifting the paradigm away from physical dominion and towards control over resources on the sea floor. The unprecedented access to untapped resources brought about by the receding permafrost in the Arctic Circle may soon cause an international gold rush as well as a variety of conflicts.
The conflicts over the Arctic region are unlikely to be resolved within the very near future. With five major states making claims to extensive parts of the Arctic seabed, there is a lot of scientific and professional work that needs to be done. Fortunately, there has been one good development since the conflict began. On May 28, 2008, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States came together for the Arctic Ocean Conference in Greenland. (Note 66) The goal of the Conference, initiated by Denmark’s Foreign Minister, was to foster unity and cooperation in the Arctic area so as to prevent an environmental catastrophe. The result of the Conference was the Ilulissat Declaration. This document states that no new legal framework will be set up to govern the Arctic. Instead, the parties agreed to proceed using the guidelines set forth in UNCLOS. (Note 67) While this Declaration is not necessarily ground-breaking, it is encouraging in that it signals a willingness of the involved Arctic states to work together in settling their disputes.