I heard a fascinating story this morning on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition concerning the (polite) dispute between Denmark and Canada over a tiny rock island in the Nares Strait between Greenland and Canada proper.
The NPR story mentioned that with the retreat of polar ice, the Northwest Passage may start becoming navigable year-round. This would attract shipping looking to cut the distance between Europe and Asia by a significant amount. This article mentions that oil supertankers would find this route particularly beguiling because they are unable to transit the Panama Canal, forcing them into a passage around the tip of South America.
Canada claims the Northwest Passage as territorial waters, and the U.S., for one, claims it is an international strait, subject to the regulations thereof.
I realized while listening that I had no earthly clue what the laws regarding international straits are. Thus, my blog.
- The article was written in 1974 but provides some good background. http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/aureview/1974/sep-oct/Lawyer.html
- You can see the Wikipedia entry for United Nations sea treaties
- While you’re at Wikipedia, have a look at the entries for Territorial Waters, and Hans Island, the speck of land in question in the Nares Strait.