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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Greenland, in May 2008, to provide an early response to the situation. On that occasion, the “Arctic
Five” (A5), as they’ve become known, issued a declaration affirming their commitment to the orderly
settlement of overlapping claims in the Arctic. The Ministers further stated that the “law of the sea”
“provides a solid foundation for the responsible management of the Arctic Ocean”, and that there is
“no need to develop a new comprehensive legal regime to govern the Arctic Ocean” (Ilulissat
Declaration, 2008). But to many other stakeholders, the legal and political framework that did exist –
the Arctic Council, adherence to a variety of global environmental treaties such as UNCLOS
, and a
series of voluntary guidelines on issues such as shipping and offshore oil and gas development – was
no longer adequate for an ocean that was suddenly much more accessible and much more popular,
with the promise of significantly enhanced economic activity in the short to mid-term.
A range of policy options were subsequently outlined by commentators, ranging from the status quo
promoted at Ilulissat, to the idea of an Arctic Treaty, akin to the Antarctic Treaty System, put
forward by the European Parliament. This section will outline these options in greater detail.
Ilulissat Approach
As iterated in Ilulissat, it is quite true that UNCLOS provides a solid legal framework to deal with at
least some of the Arctic’s marine issues. In particular, it provides rules concerning maritime
boundaries; claims to an outer continental shelf; sovereign rights over resources; and the protection
of the marine environment.
A number of relevant global conventions similarly apply to the Arctic. They include: the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD);
a broad range of conventions and other instruments adopted by the International Maritime
Organization (IMO); the London (Dumping) Convention 1972 and its 1996 Protocol; the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES); the Stockholm Convention on
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs); and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International
Importance. Non-binding instruments include: the Declaration of Principles and Agenda 21 adopted
by the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development; the Global Programme
of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities; as well as the
2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and its Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
Some regional conventions are also relevant, including the Convention on the Protection of the
North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) and the Convention on Future Multilateral Co-operation in the North