Monday, August 13, 2007

Pushing Out Santa

I hadn't realized that the US is part of this movement to claim the North Pole.
The pristine, resource-rich Arctic is a growing area of dispute (Spiegel) thanks to climate change. The shrinking polar ice cap has led to rival claims among the eight countries with Arctic borders: the United States, Russia, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark (via control of Greenland). The competition tests the international accord (PDF) that governs oceans and seabeds like never before. The Law of the Sea Treaty gives a nation the option of expanding its ocean economic zone—over which it has exclusive resource-development rights—beyond the two-hundred-mile limit off its coasts if it can prove that the seafloor is actually an extension of its geological territory. The United States is weighing whether to claim up to six hundred miles (USA Today) off the Alaskan coast, but some experts contend U.S. failure to ratify the treaty may complicate the issue. CFR fellow Scott Borgerson argues that the Arctic situation may require a diplomatic solution (IHT) similar to the one in place for Antarctica, where “countries bordering the Arctic could settle their sovereignty disputes in an organized and transparent way.”
I'm willing to bet that not being part of the Land of the Sea Treaty doesn't negate the US claims. In fact, I'd wager that our standing is as valid as any due to our rather potent ability to enforce our claims. This one will likely just end up in the UN as a international treaty that goes beyond the Land of the Sea Treaty.

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