US attempts at bilateral diplomacy only complicating disputes, should agree to international framework of UNCLOS
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Matters are further complicated by political relations, as the five coastal Arctic States are not the only nations with a foothold in the Arctic, let alone with an interest in new sources of fuel. Among the littoral States themselves, the position of the United States also adds to the uncertainty. The U.S. already maintains a significant commercial presence in the Arctic and fosters economic ties with other Arctic Nations, which will be affected by the claims of other States vying for sovereignty. For example, the U.S. currently imports mass amounts of oil from Norway and would likely stand to gain if Norway established a recognized claim to Arctic reserves. To this end, the U.S. ambassador in Oslo, John Doyle Ong, inserted himself in the ongoing negotiations between Russia and Norway over the Barents Sea in 2005. Yet this has not prevented America from collaborating with other Arctic States, or from exploring the possibility of its own claim based on the limits of Alaska's continental shelf.
The need for a functioning legal order capable of governing the various competing claims of Arctic sovereignty is manifest. Despite the Convention's deficiencies, it is an authoritative, internationally recognized regime with comprehensive maritime jurisdiction under which legal claims to the Arctic may be advanced and disputed.
"Implications of Global Warming on State Sovereignty and Arctic Resources under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea: How the Arctic is no Longer Communis Omnium Naturali Jure
." Richmond Journal of Global Law & Business
. Vol. 8. (Winter 2008): 195-248. [ More (12 quotes) ]
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.