The Department of homeland Security release a National Security/Homeland Security Presidential Directive today setting out the administration’s position on Arctic sovereignty.
‘Green’ readers will be pleased to note that the Directive recognizes the importance of protecting the arctic environment and its biological resources, and seeks ‘sustainable’ development of the arctic’s ‘rich resources’.
The Directive also seeks co-operation with the eight Arctic nations and seeks domestic ratification of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to provide legal certainty to the framework. This requirement for co-operation, however, does not prevent the directive from unilaterally asserting that “The Northwest Passage is a strait used for international navigation, and the Northern Sea Route includes straits used for international navigation; the regime of transit passage applies to passage through those straits.”
The Directive does not explain the apparent inconsistency between the strict enforcement of US sovereignty over its Exclusive Economic Zone and extended shelf and the primacy of its security interests there, on the one hand, and the non-sovereignty of Canada over transit through waters entirely within its borders, on the other.