Canadian Sovereignty over the Northwest Passage Essay

Canadian Sovereignty over the Northwest Passage Essay

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A complex collection of more than 1800 separate islands forms the Canadian Archipelago and Canada’s Arctic territory. 1 Within recent history the arctic has gained popular attention from governments both domestically and internationally. The rise in global climate temperatures accounts for longer, ice free Arctic summers, higher levels of resource exploration and development, and less challenges to access in the Arctic. Canadian sovereignty over Arctic lands and islands is undisputed with the single exception of Hans Island, a 1.3 square kilometer island claimed by Denmark.2 Currently what is disputed is the Canadian assertion of sovereignty over the Northwest Passage waterway. The passage which would facilitate international shipping through the sovereign Canadian archipelago island system, links the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. Its widest and deepest course would take the Northwest passage from “Lancaster Sound through Barrow Straight into Viscount Melville Sound an onwards through M’Clure Straight and into the Beaufort Sea.”3 Historically Arctic ice made this route impossible to cross, but rising temperatures are changing that. The government of Canada believes that the Northwest Passage is situated within internal Canadian waterers, thereby falling under Canadian sovereign jurisdiction, subject to Canadian domestic laws. With the possibility of the passage becoming a international shipping rout, many countries including the United States do not agree with this claim. They suggest the Northwest passage should be an international straight subject to the International Law and the doctrine of transit passage.4

When assessing the validity that Canada’s has a claim to Northwest Passage sovereignty three questions need t...


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...pers on the new Welfare ." The Future of the Arctic: A Key to Global Sustainability. no. 5 (2012): 1-5 .

Central Intelligence agency , "Canada ." Last modified November 12, 2013. Accessed November 27, 2013. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ca.html.

Government of Canada , "5. Planned Icebreaker Deployment." Last modified June 24, 2013. Accessed November 26, 2013. http://www.ccg-gcc.gc.ca/Icebreaking/Icebreaker-Requirements/Planned-Icebreaker-Deployment.

The Government of Canada , "Canada's Arctic Foreign Policy." Last modified June 03, 2013. Accessed November 27, 2013. http://www.international.gc.ca/arctic-

United Nations , "United Nations and Convention on the Law of the Sea:Division for Ocean Affairs and the LAw of the Sea." Accessed November 27, 2013. http://www.un.org/depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/UNCLOS-TOC.htm.

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