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ThesisUniversity of Akureyri>Hug- og félagsvísindasvið>Meistaraprófsritgerðir>

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/5651


Trans-Arctic shipping: The Icelandic perspective


The Arctic is an unusual area in political and legal sense. The main characteristic of the
area is that it is dominated by maritime areas and therefore is largely dependant on
international rules of the law of the sea. Because of this, the area is mainly subject to the
sovereignty of the five states that have claims or locus standi in the Arctic territory, but
in a limited way to other more southern states. In this paper, Arctic governance issues
are raised and discussed in order to explain the matters of opinion that have been
prevailing regarding the matter. The discussion contains both political and
indeterminate factors that might affect Arctic development. Factors encouraging Trans-
Arctic shipping are mentioned and the possible impacts of Trans-Arctic shipping on the
Arctic are discussed including the need for rules or standards that reduce the danger of
accidents or pollution. The possible sea routes in the Arctic are introduced and the legal
ambiguities of the Russian and Canadian Arctic areas are also covered and discussed.
The international legal regime on shipping is examined and the relevant instruments
mentioned and their legal effect. In addition, instruments that concern the Arctic
specifically are covered such as Article 234 of the United Nations Convention on the
Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Instruments of the International Maritime Organization
(IMO) that are specifically tailored to the Arctic are among those non-binding
instruments mentioned. The Icelandic shipping law is examined in detail and the
influence of Iceland‟s membership of UNCLOS, IMO and the Agreement on the
European Economic Area (EEA) taken to consideration. Iceland‟s implementation of
international rules is especially emphasized in this discussion. The measures taken by
Iceland to fight pollution and marine accidents are also studied. The paper concludes
that Iceland is one of the Arctic‟s main marine frontiers that may have significant
effects on the development within the area and may prove to be an important link
between the South and the Arctic. Thus Iceland cannot avoid taking part in the
discussions, disputes and decision making on Arctic matters in the future. The Icelandic
marine area constitutes the corridor from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arctic Ocean and
should prepare promptly to limit the effects of possible challenges that Trans-Arctic
shipping might pose.


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