Russia Plants Flag at North Pole

In the global race to utilize the planet’s remaining oil deposits, Russia, Canada, the United States, Norway and Denmark are all in disagreement over who is entitled to 1.2 million square kilometers of Arctic seabed surrounding the North Pole.
Why is this happening now?

Scientists believe warming could open up the famed Northwest Passage to year-round cargo shipping by 2050, as well as lay bare an estimated 9 billion tonnes of Arctic oil and gas deposits.
AFP, August 2nd

All signatories to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea have ten years from the date they signed it to provide evidence backing their claims for the region. Since Russia signed in 1997, they have until the end of this year to back their claim that the Arctic seabed and Siberia are linked by a single continental shelf. To this end, a Russian expedition arrived at the North Pole on Thursday, planting a Russian flag on the Arctic Seabed while gathering samples and other data.

In response, Canadian Foreign Minister Peter Mackaye remarked on Thursday, “Look, this isn’t the 15th century. You can’t go around the world and plant flags and say, ‘We’re claiming this territory,'” Since Canada signed the UN pact in 2003, it has until 2013 to present its case to the UN.

Last Friday Michael Byers, the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia, told CBC, “…without a serious shift in political will, and an infusion of financial resources…Canada will miss its deadline in 2013. We’re talking about such a large expanse of frozen ocean that the actual technological challenge is comparable to a moon mission, and I’m afraid we haven’t done everything that needs to be done.”


Filed under Arctic, Canada, Flag, International Politics, Law of the Sea, news, North Pole, Oil, Peter Mackaye, Russia, Sovereignty, UN

6 responses to “Russia Plants Flag at North Pole

  1. jasmine

    ahhaha, i love mackaye’s comments. i hope it comes under canada’s control, mostly because at this point, i figure we’re the most responsible party involved. how on earth does the usa figure it has a claim when all it owns is alaska and the delineations for alaska were settled ages ago?

  2. S.Z.

    Based on the Russian logic (planting a flag = ownership) the moon should then belong to the Americans!

  3. communist

    david i told you about lawyers of the sea, didnt i?

  4. turtlecity

    I would posit that it is by American logic as well.

  5. turtlecity

    As all the ice melts, sea boundary law seems to be a growing industry.

  6. turtlecity

    “Countries that ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea have 10 years to prove their continental shelves extends beyond the 370-kilometre (200-nautical-mile) outer limit currently in place.”
    So to have a reasonable chance of getting sovereignty of the area, the US would have to prove that its continental shelf goes all the way out there.

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