Norwegian Antarctic oil claim may break international law / News / The Foreigner

Norwegian Antarctic oil claim may break international law. Norway’s claim to part of Antarctica may in fact breach the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, experts say. The treaty prohibits any country from claiming parts of the Antarctic or its surrounding continental shelf. Norway has recently indicated it wants more of the area off its Bouvet Island for oil activities, even though the Petroleum Directorate has little faith the expansion will yield major results.

bouvetisland, antartictreaty, norwayoilclaim



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Norwegian Antarctic oil claim may break international law

Published on Thursday, 21st July, 2011 at 19:55 under the news category, by Gareth Corfield.
Last Updated on 21st July 2011 at 21:08.

Norway’s claim to part of Antarctica may in fact breach the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, experts say.

Bouvet Island, southeast side
Bouvet Island, southeast side
Photo: NOAA Photo Library/Wikimedia Commons


The treaty prohibits any country from claiming parts of the Antarctic or its surrounding continental shelf.

Norway has recently indicated it wants more of the area off its Bouvet Island for oil activities, even though the Petroleum Directorate has little faith the expansion will yield major results.

Professor Robin Churchill at the Dundee School of Law believes Norway’s desire to claim approximately 100,000 square kilometres breaches the international agreement.

“A State is only entitled to a continental shelf as a result of the sovereignty over the land. The establishment of the continental shelf boundaries in Antarctica, in a process involving the UN Continental Shelf Commission is thus an act that promotes or supports a territorial claim, and it may be in violation of the Antarctic Treaty”, he said to Aftenposten.

Antarctic facts:

  • The first uncontested Antarctic landing took place in January 1895.
  • Germany occupied Norway's Antarctic territory during WW2, renaming it New Swabia.
  • France imposed a tax on all ships visiting its territory in 2001.
  • Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer, beat Britain’s Captain Scott in the 1914 race to the South Pole.
  • No new country can claim areas of Antarctic land under the 1959 Antarctic Treaty.

Neither America nor Russia formally recognised Norway’s claim to the land. The White House sent a diplomatic note to the UN Secretary General contesting Norway’s demands.

Russia said it “… does not recognize any claims in areas that fall within the scope of the [Antarctic] treaty and considers the set of such requirements should not form the basis for rights on the seabed or in the ground outside the Antarctic continent.”

Norway, however, refutes allegations its claim breaches international law.

“Norway and the other claim holders view is that the sovereign rights associated with the shelf do not involve any new claim prohibited by the Antarctic Treaty. Accordingly, complying with the obligation to submit documentation of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles in this area not contrary to the Antarctic Treaty,” alleged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a written statement.

Seven countries - Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the UK - have all laid claim to Antarctic territory.

The countries all commit themselves to using Antarctica for purely peaceful purposes, such as scientific research, but tensions are already rising between the South American nations and the UK.

Argentina’s claim overlaps with those of Chile and the UK. Set against the context of rising diplomatic tensions over the Falkland Islands, Argentina’s Antarctic aspirations could see a repeat of the 1982 Falklands War.

In light of tensions between the UK and Argentina over the Islands, the UK Royal Navy recently commissioned the HMS Protector, a former Norwegian ship, into service, playing a vital role in maintaining Britain’s presence in the South Atlantic. No country can lay a new claim to Antarctic territory except America and Russia.



Published on Thursday, 21st July, 2011 at 19:55 under the news category, by Gareth Corfield.
Last updated on 21st July 2011 at 21:08.

This post has the following tags: bouvetisland, antartictreaty, norwayoilclaim.





  
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