September 16, 2019
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 In Arctic Circle Resource Exploitation

Country: Spain
Delegate Name: Ishaan Muchumarri

Special Political Committee
Arctic Circle Resource Exploitation
Kingdom of Spain
Ishaan Muchumarri
Forest Hills Eastern

The Arctic Circle has for several decades been vastly unregulated and misused. The Arctic Circle contains large amounts of oil, natural gas, fish, and minerals. While currently nations lack effective methods at exploiting these reserves, technology is constantly evolving, and these reservoirs could soon be viable prospects. As a result, various countries, those currently in the region and those not, have been struggling to assert their influence and control in the Arctic Circle for its natural resources and its strategic potential. The current authoriy in the Arctic Circle is the Arctic Council, which consists of Finland, Sweden, and Iceland, as well as the 5 Arctic States(nations with a coastline in the Arctic Circle): Russia, Denmark(through Greenland), Canada, Norway, and the United States(through Alaska). In 1982, the United Nations passed the UNCLOS(United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea), which declared that nations controlled only the waters 12 nautical miles from their shoreline in the Arctic Circle, and since its passing several nations have been making attempts to advance their territory beyond these restrictions. Russia, Canada, and Denmark(Greenland) are among the current nations to have laid enormous claims to waters from their Arctic Coast to at minimum the North Pole. These claims are all in conflict with one another, and all violate the UNCLOS treaty that these nations accepted. Additionally of concern, The United States of America has not ratified the treaty, which leaves America the only Arctic State to have not ratified the treaty. In regards to the local populace, several Arctic Peoples have been forcibly removed from their territory. In the 1950’s, Canada infamously forced several Inuit Peoples off their native lands to expand their territory. This, and many other instances of nations intruding on the sovereignty of Arctic Peoples, has caused privation amongst the Arctic Peoples. While the Arctic Council does now recognizes indiginous people and gives them the status of Permanent Membership, they still lack any voting power. With all of these conflicting statements and lack of regulation, Spain seeks to establish official international regulation in the Arctic Circle and control the ambitions of the Arctic States.

While lacking any territory in the region, the Kingdom of Spain has a coast with the Atlantic Ocean and is affected by the choices that are made in the Arctic region, such as climate change and rising sea levels as a result of melting ice. As a result, Spain feels that it should have an influence in the region. The Spanish Polar Committee, the authority of both Polar regions on behalf of the Spanish Government, is working towards developing an Arctic Constituency, domestically as well as in the European Union, in order to develop a small population well versed in the Arctic Circle and ready to solve issues in the region. The Spanish Oceanic Institute of Science has been monitoring the Arctic Ocean to ensure fishing is not over exploited, and prevent loss of wildlife. As for current policy, with Spain’s observer status on the Arctic Council, Spain has been pushing the Arctic Migratory Bird Initiative (AMBI) to help control the decline of birds that migrate to the Arctic Circle; Spain has even offered to host the African-Eurasian Flyway and serve as the authority in the region. Spain is also working towards taking part in as many Arctic Council missions and excavations as possible.

With the Arctic Circle lacking critical regulation and vast amounts of claims all over the world unrecognized, a unified solution is needed. The Kingdom of Spain is proposing that along with the current 8 members of the Arctic Council(United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland), 8 non-permanent members be added to the Council on a 10-year basis, cycling through all nations across the globe. Since the actions committed in the Arctic Circle touch all nations across the globe through climate change and other means, Spain deems it necessary that nations beyond those with territory in the region have influence on the Arctic Council. Additionally, Spain calls for the Arctic Council to grant a veto power to its permanent members(the Six Indigenous Peoples’ organizations on the Council). This veto power would require all Permanent Members to vote together to oppose any action commissioned by the Arctic Council. By requiring a 100% approval for veto amongst the Permanent Members, Spain hopes that some form of exploitation will remain possible, while simultaneously preventing the Arctic Council from acting directly against the interests of indiginous peoples in the Arctic. In regards to the territorial claims in the Arctic, Spain seeks to firmly establish the North Pole and its surrounding area to be under the jurisdiction of the United Nations, but Spain is open to recognizing some claimed territories in the Arctic Circle if sufficient evidence(as stated in the UNCLOS) and/or reason can be provided a. Lastly, Spain would like to see the United States ratify the UNCLOS, as having the U.S. free of regulation is of major concern to Spain.

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