Legal problems of international cooperation
Comment by the Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry on the filing of Denmark’s claim to the Arctic continental shelf
Denmark is one of the five Arctic countries claiming the right to own continental shelf sectors in the Arctic Ocean. Apart from Denmark, this regional group includes Russia, Norway, Canada and the United States. In 2001, Russia became the first Arctic country to state its rights to the continental shelf.
On 15 December, Denmark requested that the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) extend the borders of a continental shelf sector, located north of Greenland, by 200 nautical miles from the coast in line with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Russia was well aware of the Danish side's plans in this respect. Moreover, it became obvious long ago that Denmark would claim the right to own an expanded continental shelf sector below or even above the North Pole. Russia will voice similar claims in line with its revised request, which is currently being drafted. It is precisely with due consideration for this circumstance that our countries have cooperated actively on this issue, throughout the entire duration of drafting Arctic claims, and they will continue to cooperate on this issue.
It should be noted that the CLCS is not authorised to "allot" the relevant continental shelf sector to any specific country or to demarcate water surfaces. After assessing the submitted scientific data, the CLCS is called on to decide whether a specific area falls under the continental shelf category, whether it is an underwater extension of the continent, or whether it is a deep section of the seabed, which no country can claim.
Possible adjoining sections of our countries' continental shelf in the high Arctic latitudes will be demarcated on a bilateral basis, through negotiations and in line with international law. However, the CLCS should first confirm that the seabed sections to which Russia and Denmark are laying claim are part of the continental shelf. This issue cannot be solved in a day or two. Considering the CLCS's current work load, the Danish claim will be reviewed not earlier than 10 to 15 years from now, according to current estimates.