Historically Iced Out: Calling on the United States To Resolve Its International Law Disputes in the Arctic Ocean

Jeanne L. Amy | Comment

Projections show that Arctic sea ice could experience a complete melt-out by 2020. Accordingly, on May 10, 2013, President Barack Obama released the National Strategy for the Arctic Region, which outlines strategic priorities for the United States to ensure safety and stability in the changing Arctic landscape. Due to consistently receding sea ice in the Arctic, commercial and recreational avenues in the polar north have become increasingly accessible, especially for the nations that border the region. Following the promulgation of the plan, various government agencies began the work of projection what this increased commercial activity in the Arctic would look like and what impacts such activity would have on the region.

Nearly two years later, President Obama issued Executive Order 13689– Enhancing Coordination of National Efforts in the Arctic, which encouraged different government entities to work together “to protect our national interests in the region.”5 Among the interests enumerated were maritime safety, energy and economic benefits, and the uses of the sea as reflected in international law.6 These introductory measures by the U.S. government pale in comparison to the measures that other Arctic nations have taken to protect their interests in the region.