SHOC Seminar with Bjørn Kunoy: Race for the North Pole – International Legal Framework?

Abstract of the seminar

All five coastal States to the Central Arctic Ocean have outer continental shelf entitlements to the seabed subjacent. Two of these five States, Norway and the Russian Federation, have completed their obligations under Article 76 and Annex II to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and have thereby ensured opposable entitlements, while Denmark/Greenland and Canada have submitted their claims in 2014 and 2019, respectively, with prospects of having these claims considered by the CLCS only in approximately 10 – 15 years. It remains to be seen whether the United States of America as a non-State Party to UNCLOS will have access to transmitting its outer continental shelf claim to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) and have such a claim duly considered under Annex II to UNCLOS.

The recent CLCS recommendations to the Russian Federation appear to shed light on a number of questions that will be relevant for the admissibility of the claims of Canada, Denmark/Greenland and also for the United States of America. On the one hand, while the recommendations of the CLCS are only based on the data and other information duly transmitted by the Russian Federation, they appear dispositive in regard to parts of the claims of the other coastal States to the Central Arctic Ocean whose claims have not yet been considered by the CLCS. On the other hand, there remain numerous outstanding issues.

Biography of the speaker

Bjørn Kunoy is Special Legal Adviser in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Industry & Trade, Faroe Islands, and has acted as Agent and Counsel in Annex VII arbitral tribunal proceedings and before the Dispute Settlement Mechanism of the World Trade Organization. He has also experience as head of delegation in maritime delimitation negotiations, inter-State unitization negotiations in regard to transboundary hydrocarbon deposits, and before the Commission on the Limits of the Continental.

Bjørn Kunoy is also professor of international law at the University of the Faroe Islands, where he teaches public international law and law of the sea. He has appeared as counsel in contentious proceedings before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and advises sovereign clients on treaty-law, state responsibility, natural resources law and maritime delimitation matters. Bjørn is the author of 40 peer reviewed papers several of which have been quoted in proceedings before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and also the International Court of Justice.


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