In the Arctic, much of the supposed distress voiced by UNCLOS proponents stems from Russia’s vast claim of Arctic ECS that it submitted to the CLCS in 2001. The proponents incorrectly imply that Russia’s claim will result in the loss of Arctic resources that belong to the United States. According to Senator Lisa Murkowski (R–AK), for example, the U.S. failure to accede to UNCLOS would cause “a negligent forfeiture of valuable oil, gas and mineral deposits.”35
But the United States has not and will not “forfeit” a drop of Arctic oil to Russia or any other nation. For one thing, Russia’s claimed ECS area does not overlap any part of the U.S. Arctic ECS. To the contrary, Russia’s claim respects a boundary that the United States and the uSSR negotiated in 1990—the “Baker– Shevardnadze line.”36
The Russian claim extends the Baker–Shevardnadze line from the Bering Strait all the way to the North Pole, likely resulting in an excessive ECS claim in the central Arctic. However, Russia’s potentially excessive claim is located to the north of the limits of the U.S. ECS area. While the Russian claim may overlap with Canada’s ECS claim, it does not overlap any U.S. ECS area.37
In short, there is no conflict between the United States and Russia regarding the division of Arctic resources, including hydrocarbons. even if there were a conflict, Russia’s claim cannot be approved by the CLCS and would not be recognized by the United States (or Canada). Both UNCLOS and the CLCS’s procedural rules prevent the commission from considering any ECS area where there are overlapping claims: “In cases where a land or maritime dispute exists, the Commission shall not consider and qualify a submission made by any of the States concerned in the dispute.”38
The United States may object to excessive ECS claims made by any member of UNCLOS even though the U.S. is not a party to the convention. Indeed, after Russia made its 2001 claim, the United States, Canada, Denmark, Japan, and Norway each filed objections with the CLCS. In June 2002, as a result of the objections, the CLCS recommended to Russia that it provide a “revised submission” on its Arctic ECS claim.39 Russia reportedly will make an amended submission to the CLCS at some point in the future.