CLCS has limited powers of enforcement and would not provide an adequate check on Arctic conflict
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Given the tenor of events following Russia’s flag planting stunt, the threat of nonpeaceful disputes over Arctic sovereignty is not implausible.224 A week after Russia’s submarine dive, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada would construct two new military facilities in the Arctic, build six to eight navy patrol ships to guard the area, and increase its military forces by 900 troops in order to protect Canada’s asserted sovereignty over the Arctic and its natural resources.225 Russian bombers appeared over the Arctic a few days later, for the first time since the Cold War.226 Harper, flanked by his Defense Minister and Canadian troops, said in a speech at the site of one of the future facilities that “Canada’s new government understands that the first principle of Arctic sovereignty is: Use it or lose it.”227 As troops, ships, and bombers circle the Arctic, this fragile region faces yet another threat: war.
The Commission has a limited role in the success or failure of the coastal States’ Article 76 claims. It is powerless to stop a coastal State whose claim it has denied from nevertheless behaving as if the claim had been approved. For example, if the Commission rejects Russia’s Article 76 claim, Russia could nevertheless continue to claim Alpha-Mendeleev and Lomonosov Ridges as part of its continental shelf, and could develop oil and gas in those areas of the Arctic. If Canada disagrees with Russia’s behavior—as it certainly would—it is not clear what peaceful means it has to make its dispute. Thus, the specter of armed conflict—for which Russia and Canada appear to be preparing—looms over an already dire situation.