Russia-Canada consultations on the legal status of the Arctic
February 20, 2009, Moscow.
Main points of discussion between R. Kolodkin (Legal advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia) and A. Kessel (Legal advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada).
1. The two sides agreed that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is the main legal instrument for the Arctic, and that there is no need for a new, special treaty for this region.
2. The two sides agreed that there is a need to continue with trilateral Russia-Canada-Denmark expert consultations on the issue of the extended continental shelf in the Arctic (previous rounds took place in Saint-Petersburg in 2007 and Copenhagen in 2008). Both Canada and Russia plan to submit their claim to the UN Comission [sic] on the shelf in 2013. Mr. Kolodkin and Mr. Kessel discussed a possibility of presenting a joint Russia-Canada-Denmark claim, based on the results of the expert consultations.
3. Both sides stated a high degree of similarity in their position on the issue of international shipping in the Northwest Passage (Canada) and the Northern Sea Route (Russia) - the existing limitations that are being applied to those areas are necessary to preserve the fragile maritime environment and are in sync with the rights that UNCLOS concedes to coastal states in ice-covered areas. Both sides agreed to have more detailed consultations on this topic, including the issue of rights to historical waters in the context of the existing disputes over their status with the US.