Dividing the Arctic: Sovereign Rights on Extended Continental Shelves in the High North

Mrs Ekaterina Antsygina1

1Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada

The paper is devoted to the delimitation of continental shelves beyond 200 nautical miles in the High North. Currently, the Arctic littoral states are in the process of delineation of their extended continental shelves; since the submissions of Russia, Norway, Denmark and the preliminary submission of Canada to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) reveal an overlap of claims in the Central Arctic Ocean, the need for the delimitation is imminent. Most likely, the claims are dictated by geopolitical ambitions rather than by intentions to establish control over the natural resources situated around the North Pole. Thus, the study will include some geopolitical review of the importance of the North Pole and the Arctic for the littoral states.

Probably, the Arctic states will not await the CLCS recommendations and begin negotiations after Canada delivers its submission. The delimitation agreement, most likely, would be concluded after the Arctic states finalize the delineation process. Since states are free to use any delimitation methods, it is hard to predict the future delimitation lines. The paper suggests the delimitation scenario for the Central Arctic Ocean following the three-step approach for the maritime delimitation adopted by the International Court of Justice.


Ekaterina Antsygina graduated in 2007 with honours from Mari State University in Russian civil law and received a Fulbright Scholarship in 2010 to pursue Master studies at The Ohio State University, specializing in international law. Ekaterina has three years of practice as an assistant professor in Colombia. She worked as a research assistant at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria and was a visiting scholar at the University of Oslo in Norway. In 2019, Ekaterina will be working as an intern at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

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