Home » Articles » Volume 39 » Issue 1 » Warm is the New Cold: Global Warming, Oil, UNCLOS Article 76, and How an Arctic Treaty Might Stop a New Cold War

 
 

Warm is the New Cold: Global Warming, Oil, UNCLOS Article 76, and How an Arctic Treaty Might Stop a New Cold War

 

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Abstract

Russia, Norway, Canada, Denmark, and the United States have made or plan to make submissions to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to establish the outer limits of their continental shelves under Article 76 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), an international agreement that addresses all aspects of resources and uses of the world’s oceans. These countries claim that certain landmasses in the Arctic Ocean are “natural prolongations” of their continental shelves. Successful claimants will gain sovereignty over seabed extending to the middle of the Arctic Ocean, which would allow those countries to develop the region’s considerable oil and gas reserves. This Comment evaluates these claims to determine their viability and finds that at least two of them could succeed. This Comment then argues that the resultant oil and gas development would have adverse affects on the Arctic. While the Arctic’s southern counterpart, Antarctica, is protected by a binding international treaty, the Arctic is afforded no such protection against these adverse affects under the region’s existing nonbinding agreements. Therefore, this Comment argues, despite the obvious differences between the two poles, their similarities are great enough—as are the threats to the fragile region posed by oil and gas development—to warrant a binding Arctic Treaty. 

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