The impacts of a non-accepted boundary claim: Russia's frontier in the Arctic Ocean


The northern frontier of Russia, which lies within the Arctic Ocean, has not yet been delineated. Establishing it cannot be undertaken without seriously impacting the northern frontiers of the USA, Canada, Denmark and Norway. Russia has submitted its case for a Continental Shelf under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in hope that it would recommend establishing the northern frontier of Russia as the Outer Limit of the Continental Shelf. The USA, Canada and Denmark objected, and the submission was returned without a recommendation for its adoption. It is believed that Russia is reworking its case and will resubmit in the future. Russia was the first (and to date only) Arctic nation to make a submission, and even though the submission was not accepted, it touched on two core issues that will effect all boundary making in the Arctic Ocean, namely a) the use of "median line" or the "sector principle" for boundaries between Coastal States, and b) the restrictions to extending a Continental Shelf over oceanic "ridges". This paper illustrates possible interpretations of the Russian case together with the possible frontiers of the other Arctic nations based on scenarios around the two core issues. It concludes that Russia has little to lose with whatever interpretation is made, but that the other four Arctic Ocean nations stand to lose or gain significant areas.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

Association of American Geographers (AAG)

Conference Date

Apr 15 - Apr 19, 2008

Publisher Place

Boston, MA, USA


Association of American Geographers

Document Type

Conference Proceeding