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Diplomacy and the Lomonosov Ridge : prospects for international cooperation in the Arctic Jelinski, Cameron


This paper examines the politics of continental shelf delimitation and cooperation in the central Arctic Ocean, where media and political rhetoric often point to the possibility for conflict. This analysis is divided into two main sections. First, the current political and legal situation is outlined, with a focus on the Lomonosov Ridge which traverses the ocean floor near the North Pole. While several countries including Russia, Denmark, and Canada may have adjacent and even overlapping claims to the continental shelf in this area, these players have also pursued significant scientific and political cooperation concerning the continental shelf, and an elaborate regime of international law, centred on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, has been largely respected by the players in the region. Second, the paper argues that a number of measures, including many interim approaches, are available to avert potential political disputes. The research examines the feasibility of such cooperation towards a political agreement, which could take the form of a joint or coordinated submission to a UN body, a provisional delimitation arrangement, or a joint development zone. The paper argues that in light of the degree of cooperation so far, as well as the existence of political accords elsewhere which may serve as useful models, the countries in the region should consider preempting disputes over the continental shelf by pursuing an interim political agreement in the central Arctic Ocean.

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