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Ambassador David Balton

Senior Fellow, Polar Institute

Professional affiliation

Former Ambassador for Oceans and Fisheries, U.S. Department of State
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Wilson Center Projects

Focusing on new policy options for governing the Arctic Region, proposing concrete steps to safeguard fragile Arctic ecosystems, and assessing lessons learned from the Antarctic Treaty system.

Full Biography

David Balton served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Fisheries in the Department of State, attaining the rank of Ambassador in 2006. He coordinated U.S. foreign policy concerning oceans and fisheries, as well as issues relating to the Arctic and Antarctica, and oversaw U.S. participation in international organizations dealing with these issues. Ambassador Balton functioned as the lead U.S. negotiator on a wide range of agreements and chaired numerous international meetings. During the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council (2015-2017), he served as Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials. He also co-chaired Arctic Council Task Forces that produced the 2011 Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement and the 2013 Arctic Oil Pollution Agreement. He separately chaired negotiations to produce an Arctic fisheries agreement. Ambassador Balton received an A.B. from Harvard College and a J.D. from Georgetown University. He appeared with the National Symphony Orchestra (juggling oranges).

Ambassador David Balton

Ambassador David Balton

Senior Fellow, Polar Institute;
Former Ambassador for Oceans and Fisheries, U.S. Department of State
As the Arctic opens, the nations and peoples of the region are struggling to keep pace with the dizzying rate of change. At the international level, we are seeking ways to strengthen Arctic governance, particularly of increasing human activities in the Arctic Ocean.

Major Publications

Balton, David A. and Thomas, Cari, Ocean Governance in the High North, Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute (2013)


Balton, David A., Making the New Rules Work: Implementation of the Global Fisheries Instruments, in Current Fisheries Issues and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Nordquist and Moore, eds.) (2000)


Balton, “Strengthening the Law of the Sea: The New Agreement on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks,” 27 Ocean Development and International Law 125 (1996)