The Contemporary Legal Framework of the Arctic Ocean: are there impacts of Diminishing Sea Ice?


The Contemporary Legal Framework of the Arctic Ocean: are there impacts of Diminishing Sea Ice?

Эксперты МГИМО: Вылегжанин Александр Николаевич, д.юрид.н., профессор

It’s already common knowledge that sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is diminishing and there are more and more opportunities for new economic activities in the Arctic Region. As one convincing example are new possibilities for shipping through the Northern Sea Route (or Sevmorput as it is called in Russian legal documents) which would shorten transits from the Atlantic coast of West Europe to the Pacific coast of Eastern Asian countries by one third — in comparison to crossing through the Suez canal. This example is of practical significance for ship-owners, especially taking into account other advantages of using new global routes through the Arctic Ocean, such as avoiding risks of piracy in many southern waters.

So, it’s not surprising that interests in the contemporary legal regime of the Arctic extend both from the Arctic states and non-Arctic states. There are lots of suggestions as to «improve Arctic governance» and relevant questions as to what was and what is the current legal status of the Arctic ocean.

Proposals to improve arctic governance are often connected in concreto with the need to improve legal regulation of economic activities in the Arctic Ocean before its permanent ice cap melts as was suggested in a number of research papers. «The expansion of economic activity under conditions of environmental change poses new challenges for the entire Arctic region and the world. Access to open water across the Arctic Ocean is awakening interest from the energy, shipping, fishing, and tourism industries. Each of these globally important commercial activities, if not properly regulated, poses risks that together will be multiplied in the confined Arctic Ocean. Due to rapidly changing conditions and to inadequate baseline data regarding the dynamics of Arctic marine ecosystems, many vulnerabilities and potential consequences of anthropogenic impacts are poorly understood or unknown".

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Источник: «Rivista di Studi Politici Internazionali»
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