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Image by Benjamin Suter

Normative Impact of Climate Change on the Law of the Sea in the Arctic

Photo: Benjamin Suter/Unsplash

About the project

As climate change accelerates, the Arctic Ocean undergoes profound transformations primarily manifested by sea-ice coverage reduction, sea-level rise, coastal erosion, warming temperatures, and ocean acidification. Paradoxically, the opening-up of the Arctic Ocean unveils economic prospects in the realm of shipping, offshore resource extraction, fishing, and tourism activities. In line with these environmental changes and economic development pressures, this project endeavors to offer the first comprehensive assessment of the normative impact of climate change on the law of the sea in the Arctic. Building on the preliminary identification of adverse climatic changes in the Arctic Ocean, this project will emphasize legal challenges faced by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and discuss their practical consequences for Arctic navigation, environmental protection, and maritime boundaries. It will also address the adaptive capacities of UNCLOS vis-à-vis climate change and analyze emerging international and regional legal instruments as tools reinforcing the relevance and effectiveness of the law of the sea in a rapidly changing Arctic. This project will resort to treaty interpretation and an extensive review of academic literature and jurisprudence to provide law/policymakers and scholars with appropriate mechanisms to adapt to potential and proven difficulties caused by climate change affecting the correct implementation of UNCLOS in the Arctic.



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