New Cold War Unfolding At The Top Of The World

The Arctic consists of land, internal waters, territorial seas, exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and high seas. All land, internal waters, territorial seas and EEZs in the Arctic are under the jurisdiction of one of the eight Arctic coastal states: Canada, Norway, Russia, Denmark (via Greenland), Iceland, Sweden, Finland and the United States. International law regulates this area as with other portions of the Earth. Under international law, the high seas including the North Pole and the region of the Arctic Ocean surrounding it, are not owned by any country. The five surrounding Arctic countries are limited to an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles (370 km; 230 mi) adjacent to their coasts. The waters beyond the EEZs of the coastal states are considered the “high seas” (i.e. international waters). The sea bottom beyond the exclusive economic zones and confirmed extended continental shelf claims are considered to be the “heritage of all mankind” where exploration and exploitation of mineral resources are administered by the UN International Seabed Authority. Upon ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a country has a ten-year period to make claims to an extended continental shelf which, if validated, gives it exclusive rights to resources on or below the seabed of that extended shelf area. Norway, Russia, Canada, and Denmark launched projects to provide a basis for seabed claims on extended continental shelves beyond their exclusive economic zones. The United States has signed, but not yet ratified the UNCLOS. The status of certain portions of the Arctic sea region is in dispute for various reasons. Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States all regard parts of the Arctic seas as national waters (territorial waters out to 12 nautical miles (22 km)) or internal waters. There also are disputes regarding what passages constitute international seaways and rights to passage along them. There is one single disputed piece of land in the Arctic—Hans Island—which is disputed between Canada and Denmark because of its location in the middle of an international strait. Credit: Wikipedia.

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