Saturday, July 24, 2010

Gordy on Canadian Sovereignty in Arctic Waterways

Again, if everything goes as planned, I will be away in Canadian waterways today, so I've arranged to post this somewhat topical article.  Kimberley Celeste Gordy (J.D. Candidate, U. of Houston) has posted Dire Straits: The Necessity for Canadian Sovereignty in the Arctic WaterwaysFordham Environmental Law Review, Vol. 20, pp. 551-596, 2010.  The abstract:

Experts predict that a desperate global desire for the Arctic’s natural resources will be the catalyst for the next cold war unless the question of sovereignty in Northwest Passage and surrounding Arctic waterways is finally settled. As climate change takes hold in the Arctic, scholars have continued to focus on both outdated and legalistic arguments to draft unworkable solutions to a current crisis. Arctic management solutions based upon international agreements offer insufficient protection for Canada, the nation most vulnerable to international exploitation and environmental devastation. 

This Article brings to light three considerations previously overlooked by scholars in past sovereignty analyses. First, it argues that effective management of the finely tuned Arctic ecosystem must be the responsibility of those developing the region. Second, it contends that a feasible Arctic solution must promote socio-economic stability for Arctic residents while also preserving the indigenous culture. Finally, it asserts that a nation must have an incentive to fund the expense of creating environmentally safe and sustainable development. Canada is the nation best suited to accomplish the three tasks the Article identifies. It also has the greatest motivation because Canadians, especially the indigenous people, will suffer direct harm if these considerations are ignored. 

For the first time, the Canadian government’s assertion of Arctic sovereignty can be realized at international law. This Article offers a modern and timely interpretation of sovereignty under Historic Consolidation of Title. The analysis presents the legal merits of Canada’s claim under this doctrine and demonstrates Canada’s ability to exercise effective control over the Arctic. Most importantly, this Article establishes that Canadian sovereignty is the only equitable solution for the modern Arctic.

Matt Festa

Climate, Comparative Land Use, Environmental Law | Permalink

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