Posted by: Tony Carson | 14 August, 2007

Who owns Arctic’s wealth?

Russia is laying claim to the area under the Arctic that is becoming more accessible as global warming thaws the ice above it. Potentially at stake: 460,000 square miles of Arctic seabed that could hold as much as 25% of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas, valuable commodities like gold and diamonds, fishing stocks and lucrative freight routes.

The days are long gone when the “doctrine of discovery” ruled and planting a flag was enough to claim tracts of the New World. But Russia’s gambit is a timely wake-up call for the United States and the three other countries that border the Arctic Circle (Canada, Norway and Denmark, which manages Greenland’s interests).

This could be the fight of the century. As the polar ice recedes and a predictable North West Passage finally emerges, who ‘owns’ and manages the waters and wealth of this remote region may acquire real economic power.

Under the U.N. Law of the Sea treaty, every coastal state that has the potential to claim some part of the Arctic’s undersea mineral wealth must make a claim to the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. The United States is not now a party to the sea treaty.

This editorial in USA Today entitled Who owns Arctic’s wealth? recommends that the US join the community of nations with rights to the region. But this will be a hard sell because the US, ever mistrustful of the United Nations which requires equitable conciliation, does not like its autocracy hampered in any way.

In the past few months, ownership of the Arctic has taken on the unseemly squabble of rich idlers at a family will reading.

It would be wonderful if High Arctic ownership can be determined through a thoughtful process of willing participants. Actually, that would be miraculous because it is without precedent in the scramble for land.

This article by the revolting Frank Gaffney entitled LOST is a rigged game (The UN’s Law of the Sea Treaty) signals the present and future US position: the UN is rigged — because, horror of horrors, the rights of other nations may be considered.


Responses

  1. ‘It would be wonderful if High Arctic ownership can be determined through a thoughtful process of willing participants. Actually, that would be miraculous because it is without precedent in the scramble for land. ‘

    The land belongs to the One God but we as the custodians of the land need to follow a thoughtful process so there is no scramble for land and the wealth should be shared. As the ice melts I suppose some land will be lost and loss of wealth. Should there be compensation to those who will suffer from the results of the melt.

    If this melt is related to the global warming then some parties may contribute to the global warming to accelerate the melt.

    Perhaps the masses need to talk and find a solution to prevent a major clash.

    This is an opportunity to make the UN strong and more balanced that also includes the voice of the masses.


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