The Law of the Sea Convention and the Northwest Passage

International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, Vol. 22, No. 2, p. 257, 2007

25 Pages Posted: 4 May 2011

See all articles by James Kraska

James Kraska

Stockton Center for International Law, U.S. Naval War College; Harvard University - Harvard Law School; University of California Berkeley School of Law; Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)

Date Written: May 9, 2007

Abstract

Concern over the loss of sea ice has renewed discussions over the legal status of the Arctic and sub-Arctic transcontinental maritime route connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific, referred to as the “Northwest Passage.” Over the last thirty years, Canada has maintained that the waters of the Passage are some combination of internal waters or territorial seas. Applying the rules of international law, as reflected in the 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea Convention, suggests that the Passage is a strait used for international navigation. Expressing concerns over maritime safety and security, recognition of northern sovereignty, and protection of the fragile Arctic environment, Canada has sought to exercise greater authority over the Passage. This article suggests that Canada can best achieve widespread global support for managing its maritime Arctic by acknowledging that the passage constitutes an international strait and then working through the International Maritime Organization to develop a comprehensive package of internationally accepted regulations.

Keywords: Arctic, Northwest Passage, UNCLOS, Law of the Sea, EEZ, Polar

Suggested Citation

Kraska, James, The Law of the Sea Convention and the Northwest Passage (May 9, 2007). International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, Vol. 22, No. 2, p. 257, 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1830227

James Kraska (Contact Author)

Stockton Center for International Law, U.S. Naval War College ( email )

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University of California Berkeley School of Law ( email )

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