The legal regime of submarine cables and UNCLOS as a “living instrument” for sustainable development in the Arctic

Mrs Daria Shvets1

1Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain

The main purpose of the “ArCS” research project is the sustainable development of the Arctic. Among the directions of this development, one is the increase of submarine cables network considered as sustainable use of deep seabed environment. Cables ensure connectivity in the Arctic without causing a negative effect on it. The legal regulation of submarine cables by international law might be considered as the future agenda for post-ArCS legal research in the following sense.


The development of the “living instrument” theory in relation to the UNCLOS, the main international law instrument of submarine cables regulation, means flexibility in interpretation and adaptability to the circumstances which did not exist when the convention was adopted. Since the UNCLOS does not address several issues appearing in practice and especially does not give any specific regulation to such a unique area as the Arctic, the applicability of the theory of the “living instrument” to it may be considered as one of the directions of legal research in international law.


The present article aims to analyze and evaluate whether the UNCLOS as a living instrument in relation to submarine cables would facilitate the sustainable development of the Arctic.


Daria Shvets is a Ph.D. student in international law at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, Spain). Her areas of interest are the law of the sea, environmental law, and Arctic issues with the focus on the legal regime of submarine cables. Before coming to Universitat Pompeu Fabra, she completed her undergraduate studies at Lomonosov Moscow State University. Also, Daria was a visiting researcher at Stockholm University, Faculty of Law and the University of Trier, Institute for Environmental and Technology Law. Currently, she also works as a scientific adviser of the university team at Philip Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.

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