September 16, 2019
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 In Arctic Circle Resource Exploitation

Country: Russian Federation
Delegate Name: Paige Nichols

Country: Russian Federation
Topic: Arctic Circle Resource Exploitation
Delegate: Paige Nichols
School: Williamston High School

The most significant issue regarding this topic concerns the division of territories. Presently, just five states have legal rights to natural resources in the arctic circle: the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark, although many others sit as observers in the Arctic council. But outside of their respective exclusive economic zones, these countries’ claims on territories are up to dispute. Current international law states that countries bordering the arctic are limited to a territorial sea of 12 nautical miles, and an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles determined based on the extent of a country’s continental shelf. Waters and sea floor beyond this continental shelf is considered international waters if no contrary evidence is found. Aside from this, there are no stipulations for claiming arctic land or resources, which necessitates reforms for existing laws and potentially new criteria for establishing new territories. It’s of the utmost importance that the United Nations work to solve arctic territorial disputes in an efficient and fair manner so as to maintain peaceful relations between involved parties.

As a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Russian Federation has rights to resources within the previously mentioned boundaries. However, the convention allows these rights to be extended by up to 350 nautical miles if a country can prove that parts of the arctic are an extension of the country’s continental shelf. Russia has launched multiple projects to provide evidence for its claim to arctic territory consisting of 1.2 million square kilometers of arctic sea shelf and has submitted its claim to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. Since the Commission began its review of the Russian Federation’s claim in 2016, it has yet to have been ratified, despite sufficient scientific evidence and data to prove its claim justified.

As a country with direct access to the Arctic, it is of great importance to the Russian Federation to have continued access to the invaluable resources found there, such as oil and natural gas. The Russian Federation would seek to create more efficient methods for determining the validity of land claims within the Arctic circle, as the current system relies on the arbitrary opinion of one commission, and seeks to have its claims for arctic territory recognized internationally. The Russian Federation seeks to promote communication and solvency of territorial disputes between parties involved. Additionally, they would support policies regarding efficient resource exploitation, and the usage of arctic waters for international trade. The Russian Federation would most likely find allies in countries with similar interests in using the Arctic for its shipping lanes and petroleum resources, such as China and Canada.

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