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Marine Environmental Protection in the Arctic

Pålsson, Malin (2008)
Department of Law
Abstract
The main purpose of this thesis is to examine marine environmental protection in the Arctic. This objective has been achieved by analyzing pertinent legal instruments on the global, regional and national level. The regional cooperation of the Arctic states has also been examined, as it is of paramount importance to the effectiveness of marine environmental protection in the Arctic. However, in order to present a comprehensive account of the shape of the marine environmental protection in the region, it was also necessary to include an analysis of the Arctic legal regime as a whole. The review of the Arctic legal regime utilizes international law as a means to explain how specific issue areas in the Arctic has shaped the legal development,... (More)
The main purpose of this thesis is to examine marine environmental protection in the Arctic. This objective has been achieved by analyzing pertinent legal instruments on the global, regional and national level. The regional cooperation of the Arctic states has also been examined, as it is of paramount importance to the effectiveness of marine environmental protection in the Arctic. However, in order to present a comprehensive account of the shape of the marine environmental protection in the region, it was also necessary to include an analysis of the Arctic legal regime as a whole. The review of the Arctic legal regime utilizes international law as a means to explain how specific issue areas in the Arctic has shaped the legal development, eventually resulting in a regime focused on environmental issues. Furthermore, the specific marine environmental issue of land-based marine pollution is given a more in-depth look, as it presents one of the greatest challenges for the purposes of legal regulation and is a major factor contributing to marine pollution in the region. As the Arctic region is dominated by its maritime areas, the future shape of marine environmental protection in the region is inextricably linked to the underlying shape of the entire legal regime in the Arctic. Thus, the future of Arctic marine environmental protection and, in extension, the entire Arctic legal regime, is also examined. This is done in the context of a hypothetical discussion in which the arguments for a treaty-based solution and a soft law, regional cooperation is given. The Arctic is an ocean surrounded by continents, and the law of the sea has thus acted as a natural focus for the legal development in the region. The fragile nature of the Arctic marine environment makes it extremely vulnerable to the impacts of human activity, and the mounting interest in the natural resources of the region are creating new management challenges for the Arctic states. One major source of marine pollution in the Arctic stems from land-based activities, such as industrial facilities. As the sources of the pollution are part of the economic interests of the Arctic states, state sovereignty ensures that the issue remains unregulated on both a global and a regional level. The domestic legislation of the Arctic states has traditionally constituted the main framework for marine environmental protection, but global instruments and principles are exercising an increasing influence on the national level. The United Nations Law of the Sea Convention provides the global framework for marine environmental protection, complemented by other international marine environmental agreements. On the regional level, the Arctic states adopted the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy in response to growing concerns over the Arctic environment. The Strategy is a soft law framework promoting regional cooperation among the Arctic states. It later became part of the Arctic Council, which is an intergovernmental forum established for the purposes of addressing questions of sustainable development as well as environmental issues. These different factors, taken together, constitute the current Arctic legal regime. However, criticism has been voiced against the role of the Arctic states with regards to environmental protection. The soft law character has been viewed as a major disadvantage, and both the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy and the Arctic Council have been viewed as being too unambitious and lacking concrete goals and timetables. The Arctic legal regime is found to be much less comprehensive when compared to the treaty-based regime that regulates the Antarctic, a region with very similar environment. As such, there is a discussion whether the Arctic is in need of a new legal regime, and whether it should be modelled after the one in Antarctica. The Arctic states should act now. The amount of different organizations and fora active in the Arctic is steadily increasing, which is beginning to cause a certain amount of confusion as to who is doing what. What is truly needed is structure, and regardless of which shape the future Arctic legal regime takes, the most important aspect is that the necessary political will can be mustered in order to face the challenges ahead. (Less)
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author
Pålsson, Malin
supervisor
organization
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Miljörätt
language
English
id
1561369
date added to LUP
2010-03-08 15:55:28
date last changed
2010-03-08 15:55:28
@misc{1561369,
  abstract     = {The main purpose of this thesis is to examine marine environmental protection in the Arctic. This objective has been achieved by analyzing pertinent legal instruments on the global, regional and national level. The regional cooperation of the Arctic states has also been examined, as it is of paramount importance to the effectiveness of marine environmental protection in the Arctic. However, in order to present a comprehensive account of the shape of the marine environmental protection in the region, it was also necessary to include an analysis of the Arctic legal regime as a whole. The review of the Arctic legal regime utilizes international law as a means to explain how specific issue areas in the Arctic has shaped the legal development, eventually resulting in a regime focused on environmental issues. Furthermore, the specific marine environmental issue of land-based marine pollution is given a more in-depth look, as it presents one of the greatest challenges for the purposes of legal regulation and is a major factor contributing to marine pollution in the region. As the Arctic region is dominated by its maritime areas, the future shape of marine environmental protection in the region is inextricably linked to the underlying shape of the entire legal regime in the Arctic. Thus, the future of Arctic marine environmental protection and, in extension, the entire Arctic legal regime, is also examined. This is done in the context of a hypothetical discussion in which the arguments for a treaty-based solution and a soft law, regional cooperation is given. The Arctic is an ocean surrounded by continents, and the law of the sea has thus acted as a natural focus for the legal development in the region. The fragile nature of the Arctic marine environment makes it extremely vulnerable to the impacts of human activity, and the mounting interest in the natural resources of the region are creating new management challenges for the Arctic states. One major source of marine pollution in the Arctic stems from land-based activities, such as industrial facilities. As the sources of the pollution are part of the economic interests of the Arctic states, state sovereignty ensures that the issue remains unregulated on both a global and a regional level. The domestic legislation of the Arctic states has traditionally constituted the main framework for marine environmental protection, but global instruments and principles are exercising an increasing influence on the national level. The United Nations Law of the Sea Convention provides the global framework for marine environmental protection, complemented by other international marine environmental agreements. On the regional level, the Arctic states adopted the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy in response to growing concerns over the Arctic environment. The Strategy is a soft law framework promoting regional cooperation among the Arctic states. It later became part of the Arctic Council, which is an intergovernmental forum established for the purposes of addressing questions of sustainable development as well as environmental issues. These different factors, taken together, constitute the current Arctic legal regime. However, criticism has been voiced against the role of the Arctic states with regards to environmental protection. The soft law character has been viewed as a major disadvantage, and both the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy and the Arctic Council have been viewed as being too unambitious and lacking concrete goals and timetables. The Arctic legal regime is found to be much less comprehensive when compared to the treaty-based regime that regulates the Antarctic, a region with very similar environment. As such, there is a discussion whether the Arctic is in need of a new legal regime, and whether it should be modelled after the one in Antarctica. The Arctic states should act now. The amount of different organizations and fora active in the Arctic is steadily increasing, which is beginning to cause a certain amount of confusion as to who is doing what. What is truly needed is structure, and regardless of which shape the future Arctic legal regime takes, the most important aspect is that the necessary political will can be mustered in order to face the challenges ahead.},
  author       = {Pålsson, Malin},
  keyword      = {Miljörätt},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Marine Environmental Protection in the Arctic},
  year         = {2008},
}