A new Arctic treaty is most optimal approach to Arctic governance and Arctic states should begin negotiations as soon as possible
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Thus, an Arctic treaty is the most optimal framework for Arctic governance, as it is has the potential to address the wide range of issues that face this distinctive region, and assure future cooperation among the States. The rapidity with which the Arctic is melting and the approaching State deadlines imposed by UNCLOS for CLCS submissions demand that the States work on developing a treaty now. Representatives of the five Arctic States met most recently in Ilulissat, Greenland, in May 2008, at which time they issued a joint declaration acknowledging the changing conditions of the Arctic due to climate change.183 The declaration also indicated an intention and commitment to continued Arctic governance under UNCLOS.184 In apparent response to the growing criticism of that approach, the declaration stressed the five States’ commitment to cooperating with each other, and concluded, “We therefore see no need to develop a new comprehensive international legal regime to govern the Arctic Ocean.”185 The Arctic States’ adherence to the UNCLOS framework, however, is fraught with the potential for future conflict as issues arise for which the treaty has not provided. The time to develop an Arctic treaty is now, while the States are expressing a commitment to cooperation, and before any one State gains an advantage over the others by successfully securing sovereignty over a portion of the Arctic. Because of the uncertainty as to the strength of each State’s claim, and the risk to each that sovereignty may be denied it in favor of another State, it would be in each State’s best interest to enter into an Arctic treaty now to assure its continuing role in governance of the region.