From February 1 to March 18, the 40th session of the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) is taking place in New York City. Early in its session, Russia’s Natural Resources and Environment Minister Sergei Donskoi presented his country’s claim to extend its rights in the Arctic through an extended continental shelf.
Russia’s bid to further its sovereignty claims to submarine Arctic territory comes as an addition to a partially revised application made this past August. The application included a scientifically substantiated bid to expand Russia’s shelf areas to the Lomonosov Ridge, the Mendeleyev Elevation, and the Chukchi high plain. But Russia is not the only country to stake a further claim to the Arctic Ocean’s subsoil. The updated application refers to unsettled Russian-Danish and Russian-Canadian issues of delimitation of circumpolar maritime territories – including a significant overlap of claimed territory in the Lomonosov Ridge by Denmark and Russia.
As the Commission considers Russia’s updated bid this month, there will be much discussion of sovereignty, geology, and a “scramble for resources” in the High North. This Quick Start Guide offers an overview of the UN Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), continental shelves, and sovereignty claims to better understand what role the Arctic will play in this month’s session.
Thumbnail Photo Credit: Office of Naval Research, Flickr