Political differences between Arctic states and competing goals doom bilateral approach to resolving disputes
Problematically, despite the increasingly obvious nature of the Arctic jurisdiction quandary, there exists a fair degree of disagreement on how to view Arctic both within the channels of government and academia.98 These fundamental differences of opinion doom a potential bilateral solution, because a treaty between one or more states would ￼￼necessarily require disambiguation and a clarification on where each party stands.99 At a basic level, bilateral negotiations and a treaty mechanism will fail for three primary ￼￼reasons. First, there is simply too much at stake in terms of both economic benefit and environmental risk: no state wants to assume liability for the wide range of environmental catastrophes that may befall energy developers,100 nor does any state want to negotiate away a potential energy windfall either.101 Thus, given the great uncertainties of the Arctic, there is little incentive for states to constrain their EEZ claims ￼￼￼￼via treaty, even though the need for a governance regime for the Arctic is becoming all the more necessary as time goes on. Second, the diplomats and leaders of the coastal Arctic states have explicitly provided in one form or another that the current status quo is enough, thus a bilateral treaty is unlikely to arise on its own.102 Furthermore, a bilateral treaty would likely undermine whatever cooperation may exist between the ￼￼coastal Arctic states by forcing a confrontation over the various boundaries, a confrontation that no one wants to have. Third, despite scholars' and politicians' insistence that nothing is wrong in the Arctic, the truth may be a little more nuanced for several reasons. Historically, the Arctic has been a theater of military tension and political gamesmanship,103 and despite current trends, there is no geopolitical guarantee that such tensions may not arise again.104 To illustrate this point, Arctic powers have begun to project their military power in the High North, for example, Russia has been building a large fleet of icebreakers to guard their interests.105 In this vein perhaps, the Russian Federation may have the most to lose and the most to gain in the Arctic Ocean106, even though Russia's interests may be in direct conflict with some of the interests of Scandanavian states.107 Thus, not only is a bilateral solution untenable, but there is some evidence to suggest that a multilateral mechanism may bear fruit.108 To solve the problem of Arctic territorial claims, multilateral fora like the Arctic Council and the NATO-Russia Council may be excellent environs for crafting a new solution.
Related argument(s) where this quote is used.
Bilateral arrangements between states over ECS claims are not a viable alternative to the existing UNCLOS regime. The comprehensive international UNCLOS regime was proposed in the first place as a way of reducing the transaction costs of formulating all of these bilateral treaties. Additionally, they would have dubious legal validity, especially in regions like the Arctic where all other nations besides the U.S. have already ratified the treaty.Related Quotes:
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